Vikram Patel receives Institute of Medicine's 2014 Sarnat Prize

October 20, 2014

WASHINGTON -- The Institute of Medicine today awarded the 2014 Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health to Vikram Patel, professor of international mental health and Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and at the Public Health Foundation of India. Patel led research that has played a central role in the development of the field of global mental health and improved care for those with mental disorders in resource-poor countries. The prize recognizes Patel's achievements with a medal and a $20,000 award.

"Through his research, Vikram Patel not only brought a largely unacknowledged problem - mental health disorders in developing nations - into the view of the world's policymakers and health care organizations, he has also identified and advanced practical solutions to help those who are suffering," said Victor Dzau, president of the Institute of Medicine.

Patel conducted groundbreaking epidemiological research that revealed the burden of mental disorders in low- and middle-income nations and showed a strong link between mental disorders and poverty. His research also demonstrated that evidence-based treatments for mental illness can be delivered effectively in these countries by non-specialist health care workers. Much of this work was carried out in collaboration with Sangath, a nonprofit organization in India. Patel played a lead role in synthesizing evidence that has shaped the foundation of the field of global mental health and promoted its dissemination by editing key journal series and textbooks that form the basis of teaching and practice in the field.

Patel's research has galvanized policymakers and donors to address the large unmet need for mental health care in developing countries and promoted practical tools to improve care in areas where mental health specialists are lacking. His 2003 manual "Where There Is No Psychiatrist" has been used by community health workers worldwide and has been translated into over a dozen languages.

Since 1992 the Institute of Medicine has presented the Sarnat Prize to individuals, groups, or organizations that have demonstrated outstanding achievement in improving mental health. The annual prize recognizes - without regard for professional discipline or nationality - achievements in basic science, clinical application, and public policy that lead to progress in the understanding, etiology, prevention, treatment, or cure of mental disorders, or to the promotion of mental health. As defined by the nominating criteria, the field of mental health encompasses neuroscience, psychology, social work, nursing, psychiatry, and advocacy, among other disciplines.

The award is supported by an endowment created by Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat of Los Angeles. Rhoda Sarnat is a licensed clinical social worker, and Bernard Sarnat is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and researcher. The Sarnats' concern about the destructive effects of mental illness inspired them to establish the award. Nominations for potential recipients are solicited every year from IOM members, mental health professionals, and others. This year's selection committee was chaired by Anne Petersen, research professor, Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan, and founder and president of the Global Philanthropy Alliance. Additional information on the Sarnat Prize can be found at http://www.iom.edu/sarnat.
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Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine provides independent, objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector, and the public. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.

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