February marks Black History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of African Americans, who have helped to shape our nation. In honor of the month, Charles Brown, DO, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Akron Children’s, shares his thoughts on his career in health care, what Black History Month means to him, and the person who inspires him.
What is your job title, and how long have you worked at Akron Children’s?
I’m a child and adolescent psychiatrist and have been providing care on the inpatient psychiatric unit at Akron Children’s since 2014.
What do you enjoy most about your work at Akron Children’s?
Children and families present to my service at their darkest moment. Our team and I are able to be a source of light by providing education, treatment, and, most importantly, support to lift them up when they feel the weight of their lives and experiences pulling them down.
Additionally, as an African American, I’m part of a demographic that has historically maintained a significant stigma around mental health which can contribute to delayed diagnoses and treatment options. In my role, I have the opportunity to reach individuals who may have been skeptical about addressing mental health concerns and dispel any myths that may have served as barriers to their care.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black history is a major part of our country’s shared history. The month provides a focused opportunity for anyone to learn and reflect on the struggles, triumphs, and significant contributions of our people. As the son of two activists and educators, I had a front row seat to the kind of work and commitment necessary to ensure there was continued success and opportunities for Black community members. The month is a reminder of that important work’s legacy still thriving today.
How do you recognize and celebrate the month?
To be real, the celebration of my culture is year-round. I support Black artists, musicians, filmmakers, poets, and small business owners on a regular basis. I’m mindful and thankful for the contributions of those who opened doors to the opportunity for me to be a physician. I’m proud to keep those doors propped open for future minorities in medicine through my mentorship of students in the Student National Medical Association.
Is there an African American in history who has made a big impact in your life or inspired you?
Charles E. Brown, former director of the now-Charles E. Brown African American Cultural Center at Indiana State University, has been my biggest inspiration, but I just call him Dad. Within the Indiana State University community, he was dedicated to creating meaningful pipelines for students to get into college, have an enriching experience, and find success beyond their diploma. He also worked with alumni to maintain ongoing support for generations of Black graduates. My father hosted civil rights leaders, professionals, artists, musicians, and entertainers on campus to give students a representative world view of successful people who looked like them. Throughout my entire life, I have been able to see firsthand the level of talent, resources, and education he provided for students to learn about their history and the people who committed their lives to ensuring our freedom and rights to live out our dreams.