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The Results Are In With Dr. Sanjay Gupta | Rosalynn Carter’s Work Advocating for Mental Health

Rosalynn Carter
November 30, 2023

This is a guest post by WWSG exclusive speaker, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

As the tributes and remembrances of first lady Rosalynn Carter have come in over the past week, what’s struck me the most is her tireless work in advocating for mental health.

Since President Jimmy Carter’s initial run for governor of Georgia in 1966, Rosalynn Carter championed mental health treatment. In the 1970s, she sat on the Governor’s Commission to Improve Services to the Mentally and Emotionally Handicapped, and when Carter to the presidency, she was an active honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health.

It was thanks in part to her advocacy that the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was passed in 2008, requiring insurance companies to make coverage of and access to mental health care equal to that for physical illness. In 2010, she published a book, “Within our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis.”

The American Psychological Association called her the “First Lady of Mental Health,” and she was an honorary fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. “Few, if any, other Americans have been able to accomplish what she did for the cause of mental health,” the Psychiatric Association wrote in a statement following her death.

She also established the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers in 1987 to support the mental wellness of caregivers and their role in our health system. In 1998, she co-wrote “Helping Someone with Mental Illness: A Compassionate Guide for Family, Friends, and Caregivers.”

Carter was well-known to say there are only four kinds of people in the world: “those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.”

We were all so lucky to have had her as an advocate for the millions of people with mental health challenges and those who care for them.

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