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The Carter Center at 30: A Voice for Mental Health Care

  • The mental health of children has been a frequent topic of the annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy. Celebrating its 27th year in 2011, the symposium brings together national leaders in mental health to coordinate their efforts on an issue of common concern. (Photo: Andrea Booher/FEMA Photo)

  • More than 120 journalists have received one-year fellowships with The Carter Center to report on topics related to mental health, including photographer Gail Fisher (pictured). (Photo: Gail Fisher)

  • In 2007, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter testified before a House Education and Labor subcommittee in favor of parity for insurance coverage of mental illnesses. (Photo: Amy Mullarkey/Capitol Decisions)

  • In Monrovia, Liberia, physician assistant Klubo Mulba (left) is reunited with Surprise Otto, a patient Mulba treated for depression several months earlier. Mulba is a newly certified mental health clinician, trained through a Carter Center program that is building a corps of health professionals who can treat mental illnesses in the post-war country. (Photo: P. Rohe/Carter Center)

Under the leadership of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, the Carter Center's Mental Health Program has increased awareness about mental health issues, informed public policy, and reduced stigma and discrimination against those with mental illnesses.

Through the annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy, the Center has brought a more united voice to a traditionally divided field, bringing together health leaders, national organizations, and other key stakeholders to build consensus on critical policy issues such as veterans' mental health, children's access to mental health services, and stigma and mental illness.

One of the major successes the program witnessed during the past decade has been the passage of mental health and addiction parity legislation - an important statement that these diseases should be treated like any other physical illness.

The Center also has worked on the local level in Georgia to provide community-supported solutions for improving the state's crumbling mental health care systems.

While working to defeat stigma and discrimination against people with mental illnesses at the policy level, recipients of the Center's Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism work to counter myths, misperceptions, and stigma about these disorders in the public arena through the mass media.

"The attitudes about mental illness are changing," Rosalynn Carter said. "I've been working on this issue for more than 40 years, and I think even stigma is improving some."

30th Anniversery

Learn more about the Carter Center's Mental Health Program

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