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Association News
Primm Will Spearhead APA’s Minority Affairs Initiatives
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 8 page 1-95
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Annelle Primm, M.D., will head the APA Department of Minority and National Affairs.

APA Medical Director James H. Scully Jr., M.D., announced at last month’s Board of Trustees meeting that he has chosen Baltimore psychiatrist Annelle Primm, M.D., M.P.H., to be the new director of the Department of Minority and National Affairs. Primm will begin her new duties on April 26.

Primm is director of community psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital and is an associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She also holds an appointment in health policy and management in the university’s School of Public Health.

She has served as vice president of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists. She told Psychiatric News that she is especially interested in community psychiatry because of "its focus on populations and on the social, economic, and political context of mental health."

At Hopkins, in keeping with her community psychiatry focus, Primm has overseen an outreach program that provides Assertive Community Treatment to patients with severe and persistent mental illness; the Hispanic Clinic, which serves Baltimore’s rapidly growing Hispanic population; an outreach program to senior-citizen apartment buildings; and an outreach program that provides services to people who are homeless and mentally ill.

As effective tools in her community psychiatry outreach efforts, Primm has developed two videotapes: "Black and Blue: Depression in the African-American Community," which features first-person accounts by African Americans who have dealt with depression and the stigma they faced in getting help for it; and "Gray and Blue: Depression in Older People," which focuses on elderly individuals who describe their experiences with depression.

A goal of both videos was to "reduce stigma and promote early help seeking," she pointed out. "By using the medium of videotape, mental health information is accessible to a broader audience, regardless of literacy level."

As for her new role heading APA’s minority affairs department, Primm said her overriding goal will be to work toward "eliminating mental health disparities for underserved ethnic and racial groups." A major component of these efforts will be to serve as a liaison to APA’s Council on Minority Mental Health and Health Disparities and its eight components, most of which represent underrepresented populations.

She emphasized that she will also devote considerable effort to implementing recommendations developed by the APA Steering Committee to Reduce Disparities in Access to Psychiatric Care. As part of such an effort, Primm plans to visit areas of the country "that have large concentrations of medically underserved ethnic and racial groups. My highest priority [in making these visits] will be to reach out to a broad range of groups and individuals, including, but not limited to, APA members, . . . other mental health professionals, legislators, and advocacy organizations."

Primm hopes that these visits will provide opportunities for her to educate people about the problems caused by disparities in mental health care, exchange ideas, and develop strategies that will lead to improving the quality of mental health care for minority Americans.

Primm also sees a role in heightening psychiatrists’ awareness about the ethnic and cultural characteristics of their patients. "They need to learn about the ways in which [minority] populations are unique from an economic, social, medical, and historical point of view," she noted. "They should take stock of their own ethnic and cultural backgrounds, as well as biases they may hold toward groups different from their own. Psychiatrists should seek out information about how to maximize the quality of care they provide these groups, including how best to communicate to optimize treatment and patient outcomes."

She hopes she’ll be able to convince her colleagues that a "one-size-fits-all" approach to treatment is counterproductive to patient satisfaction and the delivery of quality care.

Primm said she developed an interest in psychiatry at an early age. "I always enjoyed listening to people and helping people with their problems. Psychiatry was my favorite subject in medical school, both during the basic science years and the clinical ones."

She noted that her physician-father was trained as an anesthesiologist but has long been a leader in the substance abuse field, in HIV and AIDS initiatives, and in social medicine.

"I am certain that his work influenced my choice of a career in community psychiatry," she said. ▪

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Annelle Primm, M.D., will head the APA Department of Minority and National Affairs.

APA Medical Director James H. Scully Jr., M.D., announced at last month’s Board of Trustees meeting that he has chosen Baltimore psychiatrist Annelle Primm, M.D., M.P.H., to be the new director of the Department of Minority and National Affairs. Primm will begin her new duties on April 26.

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