Mental health care has come a long way since its inception. Recognizing and honoring the efforts of the brave individuals who have made their mark on the landscape of mental health is an important part of creating equitable services for all. The work of these pioneers in mental health has been instrumental in the development of mental health treatment programs for teens and adults as they exist today.
At Ascend, we’re always learning and looking to the future of mental health treatment, but we wouldn’t be here without the efforts of people like Elizabeth Packard, Eleanor Maccoby, Dr. Reiko Homma True, Nora Volkow, and James P. Comer. Learn more about these pioneers in mental health today.
Mental Health Pioneers and Their Contributions
Elizabeth Packard was one of the earliest proponents for equitable mental health care. In 1860, her husband had her committed to a psychiatric hospital without due process because she questioned his religious beliefs. Once she was released, Packard became an advocate for the rights of patients and wrote two books about her experience titled The Prisoners’ Hidden Life and The Religion of Humanity. Her work led to legislation that ensured equal protection under the law for people with mental health conditions.
Eleanor Maccoby was an American psychologist whose contributions to gender studies and the scientific understanding of parenting are still talked about today. This pioneer in mental health was instrumental in the development of the concept of gender identity, which sheds light on how children internalize gender roles and norms. Maccoby also advocated for better access to services and resources for children and teens.
Dr. Reiko Homma True
Dr. True is a Japanese-American psychiatrist who has dedicated her career to making sure that individuals with limited financial resources have access to quality mental health care services. Dr. True created a model of integrated care that promotes collaboration between:
- Primary care physicians
- Social workers
- Other professionals
This approach ensures that healthcare professionals can provide comprehensive treatment to patients regardless of their economic status or other barriers to care.
Nora Volkow, MD
Nora Volkow is on our list of pioneers in mental health because she has served as the director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse for 20 years. Her work has been instrumental in increasing access to quality mental health care services for underserved populations. She has devoted much of her career to researching substance use disorders — a field where access to treatment is still often restricted due to socioeconomic factors — and advocating for increased funding for research into these disorders so that more effective treatments can be developed.
James P. Comer, MD, MPH
Our last pioneer in mental health is James P. Comer, a doctor who has advocated for greater access to quality services for underserved communities throughout his career as a physician and researcher. He created the Comer School Development Program, which works with schools from low-income neighborhoods to improve student achievement by focusing on developing relationships between students, teachers, administrators, parents, and the community instead of punitive measures like suspensions or expulsions when students misbehave or struggle academically.
We’re Making Mental Health Services More Accessible
At Ascend, we recognize the efforts of pioneers like Packard, Maccoby, True, Volkow, and Comer in making mental health services more accessible. We strive to honor their commitment to equitable mental health care by providing effective treatment for teen mental health concerns. Residential and outpatient treatment with us supports teens and their families as they work toward recovery from anxiety, depression, substance use disorders, and more.
Contact us at 310.388.3713 today to learn more.