Altha Stewart, MD, a psychiatrist and founding director of the Center for Health In Justice Involved Youth at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has been named by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to serve on a new state task force on school safety. The 16-member School Safety Working Group had its first meeting in Nashville Thursday.
Dr. Stewart is the president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). She is the first African American to lead the more than 37,000-member organization since its start in 1844. She assumes the role of APA president in May.
Also chief of Social and Community Psychiatry at UTHSC, Dr. Stewart said she is honored to have been selected for the panel and hopes her experience as a mental health provider adds to the group as it wrestles with this issue.
The governor has directed the panel to review state policies and procedures regarding school safety and to recommend ways to improve safety for students and faculty across Tennessee.
“Gov. Haslam gave a clear indication of his expectations, and all members are prepared to bring ideas and expertise from their respective areas to address this important issue,” Dr. Stewart said. “It will take the combined efforts of schools, behavioral health, law enforcement, and elected representatives to develop a strategy for meeting the needs of Tennessee’s children, families, and communities.”