Current Leader

Danielle Hairston

Danielle Hairston
Location: Washington, District of Columbia Cohort Start Year: 2020 Project Topics: Behavioral and Mental Health, Education, Health Care Access, Racial Justice, Violence and Trauma Populations Served: Adults (21-64 years), African-American/Black, Urban Communities
Physician, Psychiatry
Howard University

Danielle Hairston’s area of focus is understanding the impact of systemic issues on mental health, especially in Black communities. Her work seeks to highlight the connection between racism, bias, and psychiatry. She envisions a culture that values equity of mental health care and treatment for marginalized populations. She plans to use digital media, including social media, to increase mental health access, awareness, and visibility in Black communities. As a physician and psychiatrist who has been educated in areas that provide care in underserved communities, the inequalities, biases, and stigma are glaring.

Danielle works with a psychiatric patient population which is troubled by a culture of stigma, bias, and inadequate care. While rates of mental illnesses in Black Americans are similar to those of the general population, we are frequently faced with numbers like: only 1 in 3 Black Americans who need mental health care receive it. Black Americans often receive poorer quality of care and lack access to culturally appreciative care. In treating Black and Latinx patients in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, she has, unfortunately, seen patients who are not offered the same treatment options or afforded the same diagnoses as other demographic groups. This is not only an issue in this area, but it is affecting our communities on a national level. It is especially incredibly challenging to observe these disparities as a Black psychiatrist. Historically, minoritized populations have been significantly underrepresented in medicine. The numbers in psychiatry are even more jarring. Less than 3 percent of U.S. psychiatrists identify as Black. Danielle envisions a Culture of Health where those providing psychiatric care more closely mirror the overall United States population and most vulnerable people in need.

I founded “Black Psychiatry” to provide informed training about social determinants of health, bias, and the impact of structural policies on mental health treatment and access to care. We help cultivate leaders who take an active stance to promote a culture of fair and equal mental healthcare in black communities. “Black Psychiatry” uses diverse media, digital engagement, and community engagement to hold complex conversations about the treatment of our black patients with mental healthcare needs. “Black Psychiatry” teaches about the disparities and biases in psychiatric care for historically neglected and underserved communities. My goal is to promote the development of a network of mental health professionals who are educated about disparities in mental healthcare, support each other, and go into their communities to affect change. The platform includes the use of online videos, a podcast, and virtual support groups for community engagement and education.

Danielle brings a deep commitment to bringing diversity into psychiatry, medical education, and mental health. She has dedicated her early career to advocating for marginalized groups. She brings an innovative approach to clinical teaching and leadership. She seeks to promote equity and elucidate the crucial impact of racism in medicine. She engages in complex and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about the treatment of mental health. Her ultimate goal is to have a better understanding of our people so that we can provide the best mental health treatment possible.