25.06.2020 | Declaration

Declaration on racism, discrimination and mental health

The DGPPN actively campaigns for the participation of people with mental illness in society and against their stigmatization. We are committed to respecting the dignity and the right of self-determination of service users and support them irrespective of gender, skin colour, religion or social background. In the light of the history of psychiatry, DGPPN is committed to the principles of diversity and inclusion.

The DGPPN emphasizes that racism and discrimination have a considerable, negative impact on the lives and mental health status of those affected, especially with regard to the development of affective and psychotic disorders and substance use disorders.

The biological concept of race is wrong from today's scientific perspective, as it postulates categorical differences where there are only gradual transitions. Nevertheless, such false categorical classifications are still used to discriminate against persons and exclude them from participating in society. 

Racist concepts have played a disastrous role in the history of psychiatry, and the DGPPN acknowledges its responsibility to critically reflect on these traditions and to take an active stand against all forms of racist discrimination and exclusion.

These activities accompany and complement the examination of the history of psychiatry during Colonialism and National Socialism, the responsibility for the mass murder of the mentally ill and for scientific Anti-Semitism and Anti-Ziganism.

For this reason, the DGPPN founded the section "Intercultural Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Migration" several decades ago. Together with the section and a working group of experts related to the most affected communities, the DGPPN is intensely debating and evaluating the effects of racism and discrimination on mental health and the role of racism in the history of psychiatry. This topic will be a thematic focus for this year's DGPPN Congress. 

In addition, the DGPPN strongly advocates that racism and discrimination are to be addressed in the context of medical studies, further education and training, treatment guidelines, care provision as well as research in order to reduce their impact in the health care system.

The DGPPN calls on the government, the Bundestag and the partners of the German mental health care system to support these goals by taking measures to

  • guarantee access to health care without discrimination,
  • intensify research on racism, discrimination and (mental) health,
  • strengthen prevention of and education about racist discrimination and its impact in the health sector,
  • recognise people affected by racism as a particularly vulnerable group
  • introduce a monitoring and reporting system that includes mental health as a factor


American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020) Statement on Race & Racism: https://physanth.org/about/position-statements/aapa-statement-race-and-racism-2019/ (16.6.2020)

Benner, A. et al. (2018) Racial/ethnic discrimination and well-being during adolescence: A meta-analytic review. American Psychologist Journal, 73(7), S. 855-883. doi:10.1037/amp0000204

Cooper, C. et al. (2008) Perceptions of disadvantage, ethnicity and psychosis. The British Journal of psychiatry, 192(3), S. 185-90. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.107.042291

Gedenkveranstaltung „Psychiatrie im Nationalsozialismus – Erinnerung und Verantwortung“ DGPPN Kongress 2010: https://www.dgppn.de/schwerpunkte/psychiatrie-im-nationalsozialismus/gedenkveranstaltung.html (16.6.2020)

Heinz, A., Müller, D., Krach, S., Cabanis, M., & Kluge, U. (2014) The uncanny return of the race concept. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 8, S. 836. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00836

Henssler, J., Brandt, L., Müller, M., Liu, S., Montag, C., Sterzer, P., & Heinz, A. (2019) Migration and schizophrenia: meta-analysis and explanatory framework. European archives of psychiatry and clinical neuroscience., [Epub ahead of print]. doi:10.1007/s00406-019-01028-7

Jenaer Erklärung. Das Konzept der Rasse ist das Ergebnis von Rassismus und nicht dessen Voraussetzung: https://www.uni-jena.de/unijenamedia/universit%C3%A4t/abteilung+hochschulkommunikation/presse/jenaer+erkl%C3%A4rung/jenaer_erklaerung.pdf (16.6.2020)

Pow, S., & Stahnisch, F. (2016) Eugenics ideals, racial hygiene, and the emigration process of German-American neurogeneticist Franz Josef Kallmann (1897-1965). Journal of the history of the neurosciences, 25(3), S. 253-74. doi:10.1080/0964704X.2016.1187486.

Veling, W. (2013) Ethnic minority position and risk for psychotic disorders. Current opinion in psychiatry, 26(2), S. 166-71. doi:10.1097/YCO.0b013e32835d9e43

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