This year’s winner is a pioneer for the human rights of individuals with mental illness in West Africa.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) announced that Grégoire Ahongbonon is the recipient of the 2022 Chester M. Pierce Human Rights Award. Ahongbonon will also present the inaugural Chester M. Pierce Human Rights Award Lecture at the 2022 APA Annual Meeting.1
Ahongbonon is the founder of Association Saint-Camille-de-Lellis (ASC), which has been serving individuals with mental illness in West Africa since 1983. ASC is a comprehensive care system of centers and clinics providing affordable and adapted inpatient, outpatient, and rehabilitation care to patients in Togo, Benin, and the Ivory Coast. The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved ASC, which today includes 10 200-bed inpatient centers and almost 50 outpatient clinics in support of 130,000 patients. In addition to the Chester M. Pierce Human Rights Award, Ahongbonon has received the Aurora Humanitarian “Awakening Humanity” Prize, the Dr. Guislain “Breaking the Chains of Stigma” Award, and the WHO Geneva Prize for Human Rights. At the 2022 APA Annual Meeting, he will present “Person-Oriented Psychiatry: Changing the Way People With Mental Illness are Viewed and Treated in West Africa and Around the World.”1
“Grégoire Ahongbonon is a truly remarkable individual and just the kind of leader that the Chester M. Pierce Human Rights Award was designed to honor,” said APA President Vivian B. Pender, MD, in a news release. “Guided by his own fierce humanity and his personal experience with mental illness, he has made compassionate care for individuals with mental illness a reality throughout West Africa. I urge people to attend the session and hear this exemplary leader.”1
Established in 1990 as the APA Human Rights Award, the Chester M. Pierce Human Rights Award—which was renamed to honor the late Chester M. Pierce, MD, in 2017—recognizes individuals and organizations that champion the human rights of individuals with mental health needs. Winners are chosen by the Chester M. Pierce Human Rights Award Nominating Committee, comprised of members of the Council on Minority Mental Health and Health Disparities, the Assembly Committee of Representatives of Minority/Underrepresented Groups, Black Psychiatrists of America Inc., and the Council on International Psychiatry and Global Health.2
The 2022 APA Annual Meeting will take place May 21 to 25 in New Orleans, Louisiana, under the theme, “Social Determinants of Mental Health.”3 Ahongbonon will present the inaugural Chester M. Pierce Human Rights Award Lecture Saturday, May 21, at 4 pm.1
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1. Human Rights Award winner transformed mental health care in West Africa. News release. American Psychiatric Association. March 24, 2022. Accessed May 12, 2022.
2. Chester M. Pierce Human Rights Award. American Psychiatric Association. Accessed May 12, 2022.
3. 2022 Annual Meeting. American Psychiatric Association. Accessed May 12, 2022.