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Honoring Black Americans’ Contributions to Child and Adolescent Mental Health

February 6, 2024

By Harold S. Koplewicz, MD
President of the Child Mind Institute

At the start of Black History Month, I like to honor the many contributions Black Americans have made to the field of child and adolescent mental health by featuring Mental Health America’s list of Black Pioneers in Mental Health. Please take a moment to read about the following outstanding individuals, whose work has led us toward a mental health landscape that effectively serves far more children and families.

  • Harriette Pipes McAdoo, PhD, an expert in educational psychology and child development, was one of the first researchers to challenge prevalent, harmful racial stereotypes about Black families. She also created and edited the influential anthology Black Families, which highlighted the diversity of experience and strengths of Black family life. Dr. Pipes McAdoo was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the White House Conference on Families.
  • Herman George Canady, PhD, a well-known clinical and social psychologist, was the first to study how the race of a test proctor can create bias in an IQ test. His work helped provide the framework for creating testing environments where Black students could succeed. He was also an active member of the American Teachers Association in the 1930s and beyond, and fought for more spots and training for Black psychologists at universities.
  • Beverly Greene, PhD, ABPP, is an educator, clinical psychologist, and pioneer of intersectional psychology. She has significantly furthered our view of how different parts of a person’s identity shape their mental health and experiences. Dr. Greene won the highly prestigious American Psychological Association 2023 Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to Psychology, among many other awards, and has been the author or co-editor of over 100 publications.

Inspired by these mental health trailblazers, we must ask ourselves what we can do to aid their work and carry it into the future, because all children and families deserve to receive the support they need to thrive.

Harold S. Koplewicz, MD
Harold S. Koplewicz, MD
Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, is the founding President and Medical Director of the Child Mind Institute and is a senior … Read Bio