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IOM awards the 2009 Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health to David Mechanic

The Institute of Medicine has awarded the 2009 Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health to David Mechanic. The Sarnat Prize was presented to Mechanic at IOM's annual meeting in Washington, DC on October 12, 2009.

The Sarnat Prize was presented to Mechanic in recognition of his decades of effort to increase scientific knowledge about the causes and factors shaping mental health and to improve mental health care services. His books on medical sociology, mental health, and social policy laid a foundation for looking at mental illness through a sociological lens. His early research in social psychology focused on how patients' behavior can affect their ability to obtain care, pioneering a line of research that has extended to other areas of medicine where behaviors such as medication compliance and smoking cessation affect the success of treatment. His work on factors that contribute to high rates of unmet treatment needs has been influential in guiding policy planners in improving mental health care and has been especially important in the treatment of persistent and severe mental disorders.

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 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.

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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