This past week, Dr. Altha Stewart was elected president to the American Psychiatric Association (APA). She is the first African-American woman to hold this position, and the fourth consecutive female president. Over 170 years old, the American Psychiatric Association is the largest professional organization for psychiatrists with 36,000 members.
Stewart, a Memphis, Tennessee native, serves as Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Tennessee. As a member of APA she a has served as secretary of the Board of Trustees, president of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, president of Association of Women Psychiatrists, and president of the Black Psychiatrists of America amongst many others. She is furthermore considered a valued expert in the fields of minority mental health care and childhood trauma.
As president of APA, Dr. Stewart will be in charge of fiscal policy realignment and improving leadership opportunities for APA members. She will officially take office in May 2017.
This historic moment not only speaks to the excellence of Dr. Stewart, but also opens the door for conversation on proactive mental illness awareness. Minority communities often suffer from various forms of mental illnesses, yet due to stigma never seek proper treatment. Hopefully diverse leaders like Dr. Stewart will help tear down the boundaries surrounding this subject.