Dear SIRS Community,
The senseless killing of Mr. George Floyd and other members of the minority community has once again raised the issue of systematic racism. This time the Schizophrenia International Research Society aims for action and not just words. Racism is a public health emergency; it causes long-term psychological harms and illness and affects not only those who we seek to help – people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia – but our community of researchers.
In our efforts to improve our scientific understanding of schizophrenia with the aim of increasing the benefits of treatments and services, the SIRS community must be representative of the communities we seek to help. We have made some progress, but still not enough, on gender discrimination. We now need to commit to actions that will reduce other sources of discrimination, including race.
SIRS affirms a commitment to diversity within our research endeavors so we can understand the effects of structural discrimination and how it affects the onset, maintenance and exacerbation of problems for people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. This requires us to monitor and report on diversity among our research participants and investigate its effects on our scientific understanding.
We reaffirm our commitment to human rights, equality, and social justice. As a global community of researchers, clinicians, educators, students and people with lived experiences, we have a shared and individual responsibility towards eradicating inequality, discrimination and injustice. We do this not only through our research, but in our everyday life. This can only be done through joint and individual education. Our task is to understand white privilege and eschew white exceptionalism, so we can use this knowledge to improve our research and the ambitions of the community as a whole.
We have already taken some concrete and meaningful steps, including a commitment to anti-racism. But words are not enough. We need to act. So, in developing our next 5-year strategy, the building of an inclusive, diverse and equitable society focused on improving the lives of people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia will be a central theme. The society commits to ensuring that every committee will have representation of women and ethnic minorities, every conference will have plenary speakers from under-represented groups and that all our awards will ensure that diversity is a key consideration, including our new Research Harmonization Award.
Together, we can help dismantle systemic sources of discrimination and inequality in science and practice. Let’s move together towards a better future.
Dame Til Wykes, President
Merete Nordentoft, President-Elect
Lynn DeLisi, Past President
Robert Buchanan, Treasurer
Paola Dazzan, Secretary
Sohee Park, Diversity Task Force Chair