The William Alanson White Institute Center for Public Mental Health was founded in 2016 to apply psychoanalytic understanding and expertise to social and mental health issues. The Center’s initiatives included, but were not limited to, creating a public space for dialogue, developing psycho-educational materials and educational events, working with philanthropic and governmental organizations, and researching public mental health issues. The Center collaborates with other organizations that are active in the public mental health arena to accomplish its goals.
Our Inaugural Visiting Fellow from 2016-2019 was Dr. Kimberlyn Leary, PhD, MPA, associate professor of psychology at the Harvard Medical School and an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Dr. Leary served as an advisor to the White House during the Obama administration. As a Robert Wood Johnson health policy fellow, she helped launch the Advancing Equity initiative for the Obama White House Council on Women and Girls. She was also an advisor to the health division at White House Office of Management and Budget and senior policy advisor to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Our initial projects addressed the deportation crisis facing families with undocumented members. In New York we sponsored a listening session for stakeholders confronting the immigration crisis including lawyers, Immigration judges, social agencies and members of the NYC mayor’s office. As a result of the listening session, we offered an educational event co- sponsored with New York Law School and Safe Passage for Immigrations lawyers and mental health practitioners to stress the critical role of the psychological expert in Immigration hearings. In partnership with Appleseed Networks, we contributed a chapter in English and Spanish, “The Psychological Aspects of Deportation”, to their manual for lawyers and families facing deportation. The chapter was distributed in the U.S. and Latin America. The William Alanson White Institute is a Pro Bono partner with Appleseed Networks.
Our current project will be an online series open to the public featuring scholars who will present methods for engaging the public in complex conversations.