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Professor Elyn Saks receives American Psychiatric Association Patient Advocacy Award
USC Gould School of Law

Thursday, December 1, 2022

By Becca Speier
 
Professor Elyn SaksFor her commitment to protecting the rights of those with mental illness and substance use disorders, the American Psychiatric Association awarded the 2022 Patient Advocacy Award to Professor Elyn Saks, founder and faculty director of the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics at the USC Gould School of Law. As part of the award, Saks delivered a lecture, "Making Peace with My Schizophrenia: Struggles Within, Mandates Without," at the APA 2022 Annual Meeting.
 
"I am very pleased to think that I am having an impact on how psychiatrists think about treating individuals with lived experience of serious mental illness," Saks said in the May lecture. "About a decade ago I founded the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics to look at important issues in the mental health law and policy space …we have looked at mechanical restraints, the criminalization of mental illness, and mental health challenges in college and university students."
 
Other APA criteria for the Patient Advocacy Award include influencing public policy and opinion about mental disorders and substance abuse; promoting availability and quality of services for those coping with mental illness and substance abuse disorders, and a record of fighting stigma by sharing personal experiences with psychiatric treatment and mental illness.
 
Saks has also been recognized for her published writing, including her memoir The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, which factored into her selection as a MacArthur Foundation fellow in 2009. The honor came with a “genius grant” that she used to establish the Saks Institute. In 2021, Saks was a co-winner of the Pardes Humanitarian Prize from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation for her work to eliminate stigma surrounding psychosis. 
 
The American Psychiatric Association is one of the nation's largest organizations of psychiatrists in the United States. The APA helps raise the public's awareness of new advancements in psychiatry to magnify the importance of psychiatric health for society.

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