Physician Mildred Mitchell-Bateman (March 22, 1922-January 25, 2012) was born in Georgia. She became the first black woman in West Virginia to hold a high-level state administrative position when, in 1962, Governor William Wallace Barron appointed her as the director of the Department of Mental Health. She served in that post for 15 years.
Mitchell-Bateman held a bachelor’s degree from Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina and a medical degree from the Women’s College of Pennsylvania. She married William L. Bateman in 1947.
Her career in West Virginia began in 1947 with her acceptance of a position as staff physician at Lakin State Hospital, which served black mental patients. Leaving Lakin to establish her own practice, Mitchell-Bateman went on to study at the Menninger School of Psychiatry in Topeka. Invited to return to Lakin in 1955, she became superintendent of the hospital in 1958, and two years later assumed a position as supervisor of professional services for the West Virginia Department of Mental Health. Subsequently, she was appointed director of the department.
Mitchell-Bateman became the vice president of the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 and a member of the Presidential Commission on Mental Health which developed the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. After leaving public service, she chaired the Department of Psychiatry at the Marshall University Medical School and was later the clinical director of Huntington State Hospital. The state hospital was renamed in her honor in 1999. She continued to serve on the board of the hospital until her death. Mitchell-Bateman died in Charleston.
This Article was written by Ancella R. Bickley
Last Revised on October 20, 2010
West Virginia Women Commission. American Sampler: West Virginia's African-American Women of Distinction, Vol. 1. Charleston: Printing Press, Ltd., 2002.