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Special Series on the Psychiatric Needs of Nonwhite Populations
Carl C. Bell, M.D.
Psychiatric Services 1999; doi:
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The nonwhite populations of the United States are taking on more prominent roles in shaping the country's future. African Americans continue to be an important political force, Asian Americans are asserting their needs for advocacy, Latinos are gaining increased political sophistication while becoming the fastest growing nonwhite population in the U.S., and Native Americans are obtaining self-sufficiency through entrepreneurial enterprises.

Psychiatric Services recognizes the increasing diversity of people within the United States and is aware of the variety of their psychiatric needs. From a perspective that looks beyond the borders of the U.S., the country's so-called "ethnic minorities" are actually representative of a larger, global nonwhite population. American psychiatry should not assume that its standards of diagnosis and treatment necessarily apply to the various nonwhite populations of this country or the world.

To explore the mental health needs of nonwhite populations in the U.S., Psychiatric Services this month begins a special quarterly series of articles. The journal solicited scientific papers on the mental health and psychiatric needs of African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Latino Americans. The papers were subject to the journal's peer review process before being accepted for publication. A common format for the papers, consisting of a brief description of the population, a discussion of the issues of assessment and evaluation, and a summary of information about the treatment needs of the particular group, was suggested to each author. Authors were also encouraged to acknowledge unique concerns and suggest research directions critical to the mental health care of the specified population.

The series begins this month with a paper on African Americans. A paper on Asian Americans will be published in June, to be followed later by papers addressing the psychiatric needs of Native Americans and Latinos. It is our hope that this special series will stimulate research and writing on the mental health needs of nonwhite populations as well as on more specialized topics in their psychiatric treatment.

Dr. Bell, the editor of the series on the psychiatric needs of nonwhite populations, is chief executive officer of the Community Mental Health Council, Inc., 8704 South Constance Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60617 (e-mail, carlcbell@pol.net). He is also clinical professor of psychiatry and public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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