Tuesday, 07 February 2012
Mildred Mitchell-Bateman, a mental health pioneer and the first African-American woman to lead a West Virginia state agency, passed away last month. In 1946, Mitchell-Bateman received her medical degree from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. In her more than six decades of service in the field of mental health, Mitchell-Bateman held many high-level positions and was the recipient of prestigious awards such as the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Psychiatric Association (2000) and the Governor’s Award for Civil Rights Contribution (2004).She was a trailblazer in a male-dominated profession and an advocate for public health care for those with a mental health diagnosis. As her daughter, Danielle Shanklin, remembers, “She gave those without a voice, a voice. She stood up for those who couldn’t do so for themselves.”
Mitchell-Bateman supported placing mentally ill patients at facilities close to their homes and their families. She was also instrumental in developing community mental health centers. Since age 12, Mitchell-Bateman knew her calling was to become a doctor and help people. Because of her dedication and advocacy, the Huntington Hospital in West Virginia changed its name to the Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital in 1999.