Prof. Elyn Saks Joins National Advisory Council

USC Gould School of Law • May 31, 2013
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Saks will also attend Mental Health Conference at the White House

-By Gilien Silsby

The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services has appointed USC Gould Professor Elyn Saks to a three-year term on the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) National Advisory Council. 

Elyn Saks

Kathleen Sebelius sent Saks the formal invitation to serve on the council.

“I am honored and delighted to serve on this important council,” said Saks, the USC Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences. “I’m very excited about helping the community of mental health sufferers and their families.”

Established in 1992 by Congress, CMHS aims to bring hope to adults who have serious mental illnesses and to children with serious emotional disorders. The council’s mission is to improve the mental health of Americans through the use of policy aimed at preventing and treating mental illness, developing prevention policies and programs, improving access to quality care, and advancing evidence-based practices.

“We are very happy Elyn Saks is joining our council as she has expertise as a consumer of mental illness,” said Paolo del Vecchio, CMHS director. “She has both objective and subjective views on policy and how the policy affects persons with mental health issues. Most importantly, her views on the law and disabilities will fill a vacancy on our council. We are looking forward to her views and ideas on moving the center forward to a more modern approach to holistic healing in mental and behavioral health.”

In a separate invitation, Vice President Joe Biden asked Saks to attend the June 3rd Mental Health Conference at the White House, an event where he and President Barack Obama will give remarks. 

After receiving the 2009 MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” Saks founded the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy and Ethics at USC, which spotlights important mental health issues and fosters interdisciplinary research among scholars and policymakers around issues of mental illness and mental health. In addition to her appointment at USC Gould, Saks is a professor at the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s Institute of Psychiatry and Law, the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and the New Center for Psychoanalysis.

Saks highlighted her struggles and successes with schizophrenia and acute psychosis in her autobiography, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, which has won acclaim from both literary critics and advocacy groups. It was named in Time magazine’s Top 10 Nonfiction Books of the Year and in The New York Times’ Extended Bestseller List.

Saks is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the American Law Institute. She is a board member of Mental Health Advocacy Services and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. She has been honored with multiple awards, such as the USC Associates Award for Creativity in Research and Scholarship as well as the Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award.

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