Psychiatrists and Other People of the Year


Why don’t psychiatrists and mental health professionals ever seem to win People of the Year awards?


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This is the time of year where major awards go to people, some of them deemed heroic. Almost by definition, they are likely to benefit society and mental well-being, though there is the possibility of negative influence to consider, too.

Just in the last few days, we have learned of the Noble Peace Prize winners, TIME’s People of the Year (expanded this year), CNN’s Hero of the Year, and Wisconsin’s new award called Correcting the Narrative. There are probably others. Unless there is unexpected cogent breaking social psychiatric news, we will cover them and their social psychiatric implications one by one leading up to the Christmas holiday time.

Goodness knows we need inspiration more than ever. We have just suffered devastating tornadoes, as we covered in yesterday’s column. We seem to be entering another wave of COVID-19 infection. Burnout is increasing once again in physicians and in the public. Extreme political and personal divisiveness continues. All these, and others, are both local and/or international.

That psychiatrists never seem to win 1 of these awards strikes me, especially since our unique knowledge and skills seem especially suited to address social problems. Ironically, I have noticed some who might qualify, but only in my periodic eulogies for Psychiatric TimesTM. To be sure, there are local psychiatrist awards, awards from general psychiatrist organizations like the American Psychiatric Association, from specific psychiatrist associations like the American Association for Social Psychiatry and its Humanitarian Award in honor of Abe Halpern, and the Educator of the Year Award given by Psychiatric TimesTM. But I do not think these get out into the public and connect with our social psychiatric problems.

For further inspiration, would it help to recognize those psychiatrists who have made unique, difficult, and personally risky social psychiatric contributions this past year? This could come from a formal poll or informal recommendations. I am quite sure there are worthy, living recipients out there. Do you know of any?

If you have any nominations, please send them to

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues relate to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric TimesTM.

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