NYMC > Faculty > Faculty Profiles > In Memoriam > Phyllis Harrison-Ross

Phyllis Harrison-Ross, M.D. (1936-2017)

‌Community mental health pioneer and New York Medical College professor emeritus Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Phyllis Harrison-Ross, M.D.
School of Medicine

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Born: August 14, 1936
Died: January 16, 2017


Trained as a psychiatrist as well as a pediatrician, Phyllis Harrison-Ross, M.D., professor emeritus, served on the faculty of the New York Medical College School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences for more than 25 years.

Widely regarded as a pioneer in the community mental health profession, Dr. Harrison-Ross had a remarkably diverse career as a hospital clinical administrator, researcher, academician, public health consultant, forensic and child psychiatrist and public educator.  She focused her administrative and clinical talents on serving diverse, hard-to-reach, and underserved populations, including the incarcerated.

As director and chief of service, Department of Psychiatry and the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center at Metropolitan Hospital Center in New York City, Dr. Harrison-Ross led a multidisciplinary staff of 600 (including 100 physicians), and oversaw adolescent and child in-patient and out-patient services, day treatment programs, community  outreach, mobile crisis and emergency  services, and drug and alcoholism counseling. The hospital’s mental health center served an estimated one million patients each year during her tenure. 

Dr. Harrison-Ross was one of the early pioneers of telepsychiatry, and considered the technology “revolutionary” for African Americans living in areas where no or few African American psychiatrists practiced. She also used telepsychiatry with hard-to-reach populations such as inmates, and armed services personnel stationed in remote locations.

Dr. Harrison-Ross’s development of a curriculum and an Academy of Issues in Psychiatry for Black Populations, initially created for use with her students at NYMC, went on to be used in APA medical education workshops. She authored several books, including Getting it Together, a psychology high school textbook, and The Black Child: A Parent’s Guide; and served as a moderator of the television show, All About Parents

She received the APA Solomon Carter Fuller Award for distinguished service to improve the lives of African American people in 2004.  

Phyllis Anne Harrison, M.D., passed away on January 16, 2017, at the age of 80.