Sylvia Turns Seventy

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I received the APHA 2006 Mental Health Section Award

Here's my acceptance:

I appreciate the recognition that this award conveys and it’s especially nice to receive it here in Boston, where I spent the first half of my life.

It’s been hard to interest consumers in this work and I’m glad to see that the section keeps trying.

I felt respected and included here and more than a diagnosis. Through you, and our work, I learned about a perspective that goes beyond individuals to look at population health.

Today most attention is directed downstream at treatment and rehabilitation. But rescue medicine is not enough. We can use primary prevention to reduce the number of people upstream, the number coming into the system and wanting services. Healthy lifestyles in healthy
communities can reduce the impact of risk factors and create local peer support.

You know this.

I’d like to use this chance to focus on a foundation of health, ... to wonder out loud when hitting one’s partner or having sex with one’s kids became an American tradition, a behavior to not be questioned until it is glaring. I think the mission of this section could be to start with social violence, to end the permission to mistreat each other, just as long as it’s at home.

Studies consistently confirm a very high rate of sexual and physical
abuse among persons who later get diagnosed with mental illness. If this kind of trauma were reduced, I anticipate a significant parallel reduction in the rates of suicide attempts, psychological distress, and long-term trauma based illness.

An aspirational value of public health must be the opportunity for each person to have a safe and valued place in order to achieve their own promise.

Thank you

And here's a handout I prepared for the 'new paternalism - caring coercion':


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