Resident Advocacy Committee
The Resident Advocacy Committee (RAC) was founded in May 2015 by second-year psychiatry residents who witnessed the effect of systemic failures and inequities on the lives of patients and decided to join forces to advocate for justice.
Our Vision and Mission StatementsRAC Vision The RAC envisions a world in which people with mental illness are ensured the best possible treatment and are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community. We see advocacy as an integral part of our vocation as psychiatrists.
RAC Mission By inspiring and engaging psychiatric trainees and the communities in which we work and live, the RAC strives to pursue the highest quality of healthcare for persons with mental illness. Our goal is to achieve fundamental fairness and equality for our patients by creating a forum for advocacy, identifying and challenging systemic disparities in our hospitals and communities, promoting activism and service, and creating a curriculum to support and sustain this movement for future generations of residents.
Current ProjectsCommunity Engagement The RAC has launched its first annual community outreach project competition, where residents compete for funding of a service project that impacts patients, families and the community in a tangible way. Congratulations to David Marcovitz, MD (PGY-4) for winning this year’s competition! Project Title: PRACTICE: Promoting Resiliency for Adolescents through a Competitive Table Tennis Intensive Coaching Experience Brief Description: Increased physical activity has been linked to improved general well-being and reduction in mood and anxiety symptoms. Intervention studies describe an anxiolytic and antidepressant effect of exercise in healthy subjects and patients. Further, sports and creative pursuits have been shown to bolster the sense of self-esteem and general accomplishment in high school students facing adversity. Table tennis is the most popular racket sport in the world, and has been noted to be a family sport, an intergenerational sport, a multi-season sport, and one that can enhance physical and mental wellness. Accordingly, this project involves the creation of a six-week table tennis clinic for two hours per week on Saturdays between January and March, 2016 for up to 16 students at a local high school in Roxbury, MA. It is hoped that this project will increase resiliency of high school students who are less engaged in other mainstream sports and activities.
Resident Education In 2015, the RAC partnered with the MGH Division of Public and Community Psychiatry to create and deliver an evidence-based, formal didactic curriculum which introduces psychiatry residents to the basic principles of advocacy and community engagement.
- Introduction to Advocacy: Two-lecture series that introduced residents to the basics of physician advocacy and featured renowned speakers from national mental health advocacy organizations. This curriculum will be featured at the 2016 American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training meeting in Austin, TX.
- Racism, Justice and Community Mental Health: Four-lecture series that intentionally moves beyond cultural competency to directly address racism as a social determinant of health. The racism didactic curriculum was featured in the February 2016 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry – Residents’ Journal. The article can be seen here.
Legislative Action The RAC has collaborated with local and national advocacy groups to bring change in the areas of substance use disorder treatment and emergency mental health care. An annual trip to Washington, DC is being planned for future collaboration with congressional policy leaders.
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Our goal is to create a cohesive, collaborative, and self-sustaining group of residents who are willing and able to engage the bigger-picture issues and work on creating change in mental health care through research, volunteerism, political action, speaking, writing, and interfacing with media. Annie Weissman, PGY-3, RAC Media Liaison