Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mildred Mitchell-Bateman

Personal Background:

Mildred Mitchell-Bateman was born on March 22nd, 1922 in Brunswick, Georgia as the daughter of a minister and a registered nurse. She died January 25th, 2012. Her career in assisting society began at age 12, when a tornado ran its course through her hometown. She immediately volunteered alongside the Red Cross and assisted in taking care of survivors.

Education and Contributions to Psychology:

Mitchell-Bateman first went to college at Barber-Scotia College, North Carolina from 1937 until 1939 and then went to graduate at Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina for her bachelor’s degree in 1941. She later went on to get her medical degree at the Women’s College of Pennsylvania in 1946. It was soon after this that she began an internship and got a job as a staff physician at Lakin State Hospital, serving black patients. On December 25, 1947 she married William L. Bateman, a fellow therapist at Lakin.  It was not until she wanted to begin her own practice that she left Lakin and instead headed for Meningers School of Psychiatry in Topeka, Kansas. After three years of this, Mitchell-Bateman returned to Lakin as the Clinical Director in 1955. She remained in this position until she was promoted to superintendent of the hospital. Then, she was promoted again in 1960 to supervisor of professional services for the state Department of Mental Health. It was here that Mitchell-Bateman developed her relationship with various psychiatric facilities, learning the ins and outs of what the state had to offer. In July 1962, the department’s director Charles A. Zeller passed away, allowing Mitchell-Bateman to be appointed as acting director until she was officially named director on December 17th, making her the first African-American woman to lead a West Virginia state agency.

Mildred Mitchell-Bateman advocated for placing mentally ill patients at facilities nearest their homes and developing community mental health centers. She developed a program entitled “Breaking the Disability Cycle,” which gave hope to patients who had been previously characterized as untreatable. She believed that there was no reason to simply give up on a patient. In 1973, she became the first black woman to serve as vice president of the American Psychiatric Association. Four years later, she was named one of four psychiatrics to President Jimmy Carter’s Commission on Mental Health. This resulted in the Mental Health Systems Act in 1980. In 1977, Mitchell-Bateman resigned as director after the Department of Mental Health was merged into the much larger Department of Health. She instead became chair of the Psychiatric Department of Marshall University’s medical school. After this she was named clinical director of Huntington State Hospital. Later on, the hospital was renamed in her honor in 1999. She continued to serve on the hospital board until her death in 2012 in Charleston, South Carolina.


Mildred Mitchell-Bateman received many honors and awards for her accomplishments. She was given special recognition from the National Medication Association Section on Psychiatry and Neurology in 1974, got the E.Y. Williams Distinguished Clinical Scholar’s Award for community work, and in 2000, she received a lifetime achievement award at the West Virginia District Branch of the American Psychiatric Association. She also received another honor in 2004 with the Governor’s Award for Civil Rights Contribution to the State of West Virginia. There was once little hope for those diagnosed with mental disorders, but with all that Mildred Mitchell-Bateman did, there is now a real chance at life and health for patients.


Bickley, Ancella R. "Share Mildred Mitchell-Bateman." E-WV. N.p., 20 Oct. 2010. Web. Oct. 2012. <http://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/2003>.

"Biography - Mildred Mitchell-Bateman, M.D." U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. Oct. 2012. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/locallegends/Biographies/Mitchell_Bateman_Mildred.html>.

"MMBH Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Bateman, M.D. Bio." MMBH Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Bateman, M.D. Bio. N.p., n.d. Web. Oct. 2012. <http://batemanhospital.org/wp_mb_mmb_md.htm>.

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