NEW YORK (September 28, 2021) - The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation today announced that three extraordinary women who are advocates for mental health and live with mental illness are the winners of the 2021 Pardes Humanitarian Prize in Mental Health. They are:
Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., for her profound contribution to mental health awareness as an advocate drawing on her own struggles with bipolar disorder;
Elyn R. Saks, J.D., Ph.D., for her pioneering work as both a therapist and legal advocate for the mentally ill while living with schizophrenia;
Charlene Sunkel, Founder and CEO of the Global Mental Health Peer Network, for helping to empower other people who live with mental health problems.
Three 2021 Pardes Honorary Prize Recipients were also announced and acknowledged for their groundbreaking work in mental health. They are: John M. Davis, M.D., Michael R. Phillips, M.D., MPH, and Norman Sartorius, M.D., Ph.D., FRCPsych.
“The 2021 Pardes Prize recipients have applied their scientific knowledge, deep understanding of human behavior and compassion for people to improve the lives of millions suffering from mental illness,” said Herbert Pardes, M.D., President of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation’s Scientific Council and Executive Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. “We applaud their important work.”
“These talented and accomplished leaders have expanded our scope of mental illness treatment globally. They serve as extraordinary advocates for mental health and exemplify how to use our knowledge for the greater good,” said Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., President and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. “They truly represent what it means to be world-class scientists and compassionate humanitarians.”
2021 Pardes Humanitarian Prize Recipient Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D.
Dr. Jamison, a clinical psychologist, writer, and professor at Johns Hopkins University, serves as an inspiration to countless people living with bipolar disorder, and has helped transform how society sees those living with mental illness.
She has made a profound contribution to mental health awareness through her autobiography, “An Unquiet Mind,” detailing her own struggles. With remarkable honesty about very personal elements of her experience, Dr. Jamison courageously identifies stigma as prejudice and makes a case for the relationship between bipolar disorder and creativity, which in turn has made it easier for many people to enter into treatment.
She describes the relationship between bipolar disorder and creativity, in her book, “Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament” and elaborated further on this in her 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist biography of the poet Robert Lowell. Dr. Jamison is a renowned spokeswoman and advocate for the mentally ill who inspires us to use our knowledge towards the greater good for all humanity.
2021 Pardes Humanitarian Prize Recipient Elyn R. Saks, J.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Saks’s pioneering contributions to our understanding of mental illness are seen through her work as a legal advocate for the mentally ill, a volunteer at a psychiatric hospital, a therapist, an educator, and as an author.
Her best-selling book, “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness,” in which she provides a first-person account of her transition into psychosis and a lifetime spent as a person living with schizophrenia, has helped to transform our thinking about mental illness.
A distinguished law professor and academic lawyer, Dr. Saks uses her position to reduce and eliminate stigma, and to make psychosis more approachable and understandable to others, bringing a wisdom that reflects both her experience and compassion. Dr. Saks has made a profound and lasting contribution to mental health awareness in her profession, her publications, and her daily work, with a deep impact on individuals, families, and the global community.
2021 Pardes Humanitarian Prize Recipient Charlene Sunkel
Charlene Sunkel is the Founder and CEO of the Global Mental Health Peer Network, the first group of its kind in the world that promotes and supports the empowerment of people who live with mental health problems. Ms. Sunkel herself has the experience of living with schizophrenia and is a great leader not only in her country of South Africa, but also around the world.
In South Africa, she has worked for a number of mental health advocacy organizations and collaborated with other civil society groups, academic centers and the government. She also served on the South African Presidential Working Group on Disability and Ministerial Advisory Committee on Mental Health.
At the global level, Ms. Sunkel has held a number of leadership roles including her position as a Commissioner on the Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development. A recipient of numerous international awards, she has, most of all, made it impossible for any global mental health initiative to be implemented without an active and meaningful involvement of people with lived experience.
The Pardes Humanitarian Prize in Mental Health, which carries an honorarium of $150,000, is awarded annually to recognize individuals whose contributions have made a profound and lasting impact in advancing the understanding of mental health and improving the lives of people who are living with mental illness. It focuses public attention on the burden mental illness places on individuals and society and the urgent need to expand mental health services globally. Established in 2014, the Pardes Prize is named in honor of Herbert Pardes, M.D., the internationally renowned psychiatrist, outspoken advocate for the mentally ill, and the award’s first recipient.
2021 Pardes Honorary Prize Recipient, John M. Davis, M.D.
Dr. Davis is a tireless advocate and humanitarian in the mental health field, including his support for programming and services that provide better treatment for people with mental illness internationally. A mental health lobbyist, a defender of forensic psychiatry, and a devoted champion of young scientific investigators, he is the author of the first science-based textbook on psychopharmacology as a guide for psychiatrists seeking to use medications more effectively.
Dr. Davis’s support of others has made it possible for many professionals to advance care for the mentally ill, for institutions to remain dedicated to their care, and for elected officials to understand and support mental illness programs.
2021 Pardes Honorary Prize Recipient Michael R. Phillips, M.D., MPH
Dr. Phillips has dedicated his professional and personal life to serving as a mental health advocate in China. Having lived most of his career there, Dr. Phillips has not only brought mental health issues in China to the attention of the world, he has provided leadership on culturally sensitive interventions to address the problems he uncovers.
His advocacy includes coordinating multi-center collaborative projects on suicide, depression and schizophrenia, as well as running research training courses for Chinese and foreign graduate students, thus improving the quality, comprehensiveness and access to mental health services around the country. By inspiring generations of Chinese psychiatrists to conduct research and publish their work, he has utilized the strengths of academic psychiatry to make a major impact on mental health care in China and beyond.
2021 Pardes Honorary Prize Recipient Norman Sartorius, M.D., Ph.D., FRCPsych
Dr. Sartorius has helped to shape the field of mental health and psychiatry over the past 50 years through his humanitarian efforts, research, and work to advance the understanding of mental health. He has provided hope and healing worldwide for people who are living with mental illness, particularly those who live in low-income countries.
Dr. Sartorius served as the first director of the World Health Organization’s Department of Mental Health, bringing together a variety of stakeholders in areas of mental health classifications, human rights, epidemiology, ethics, stigma, comorbidity, workforce development, and the optimization and humanization of treatment. His tenure launched the world’s largest program against the stigma of mental illness and key initiatives designed to protect the human rights of the mentally ill.
About The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation awards research grants to develop improved treatments, cures, and methods of prevention for mental illness. These illnesses include addiction, ADHD, anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, eating disorders, OCD, PTSD, and schizophrenia, as well as research on suicide prevention. Since 1987, the Foundation has awarded more than $430 million to fund more than 6,200 grants to more than 5,100 leading scientists around the world. 100% of every dollar donated for research is invested in research grants. BBRF operating expenses are covered by separate foundation grants. BBRF is the producer of the Emmy® nominated public television series Healthy Minds with Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, which aims to remove the stigma of mental illness and demonstrate that with help, there is hope.
2021 Pardes Humanitarian Prize in Mental Health Awarded to Three Women Striving to Improve Treatment, Expand Access and Empower People with Psychiatric Illness
Honorary Prize Recipients Also Announced