Kirby Randolph, Ph.D., Truman Medical Behavioral Health, continues Urban Connections series on health and wellness.

Kirby Randolph, Ph.D. is the Director of Workforce Development and the Patient Relations Specialist at Truman Medical Center – Behavioral Health at Hospital Hill in Kansas City, MO. She is on the faculty at UMKC, School of Medicine in the Psychiatry Department. She joins the discussion as a part of Urban Connections series on health and wellness.

Host and producer: Donna Morrow Wolfe   Co-host, co-producer: Joseph Jackson

Originally from the East Coast, Kirby Randolph earned her Ph.D. in US History from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed post-doctoral fellowships in mental health policy and services research from both Rutgers, New Brunswick and the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation was titled, “Central State Hospital for the Colored Insane: Diagnosis and Treatment of African Americans with Serious Mental Illness, 1830 to 1930.” Kirby has served on the faculty of the University of Kansas Medical School and was the Director of the Office of Cultural Enhancement and Diversity there. She serves on the Board of Mental Health America of the Heartland. She serves on the Cultural Competence Advisory Council for the Jackson County Community Mental Health Fund and on the Diversity of Committee at UMKC School of Medicine. She also teaches Mental Health First Aid which is a five step action plan to assist lay people in providing support to people who are experiencing a mental health crisis until appropriate professional care is available.
Kirby is committed to improving mental health services and reducing racial disparities in mental health care and outcomes. African Americans account for only 2% of psychiatrists, 2% of psychologists, and 4% of social workers in the US. African Americans are over-represented in high-need populations that are particularly at risk for mental illnesses: While representing only 12% of the U.S. population, approximately 35 million people, African Americans make up about 40% of the homeless population; Nearly half of all prisoners in State and Federal jurisdictions and almost 40% of juveniles in legal custody are African Americans; African American children and youth constitute about 45% of children in public foster care and more than half of all children waiting to be adopted, and African Americans of all ages are more likely to be victims of serious violent crime than are non-Hispanic whites. African Americans are more likely to use emergency services or to seek mental health treatment from a primary care provider than from a mental health specialist. A study by researchers from University of Illinois at Chicago found that African Americans were less likely than whites to receive mental health counseling and psychotherapy, but more likely than whites to receive pharmacotherapy. African Americans were more likely to receive mental health counseling and psychotherapy from substance abuse clinics than from primary care and specialty mental health clinics combined. African Americans of all ages are under-represented in outpatient treatment but over-represented in inpatient treatment. African Americans tend to come to services later, at more advanced stages, and drop out of outpatient treatment sooner than whites. In 2006 Merrit-Davis and Keshavan found that African Americans may have a detrimental delay between the onset of psychiatric illness, “1st helper contact” and successful treatment. This additional delay of 1-2 years may lead to worse outcomes from treatment. They describe the route to care that so many African Americans take as “torturous” and too frequently involving the police. The authors speculate that African Americans may have higher distress thresholds and willing to wait till their problems become unbearable before seeking help. When compared to whites who exhibit the same symptoms, African Americans tend to be diagnosed more frequently with schizophrenia and less frequently with affective disorders. A 2005 study found that, though the prevalence of schizophrenia is about even in all racial and ethnic groups, at about 1% of all populations, in clinical settings Blacks are about 4x as likely as whites to be diagnosed as having schizophrenia.

Kirby and her family live in the beautiful Historic NorthEast neighborhood of Kansas City.

Share This Episode