Helping a loved one who is experiencing a severe mental illness, especially someone who may not realize they are sick, is one of the greatest gifts you can give. For some, it may mean the difference between life and tragedy. ~ Treatment Advocacy Center
DJ Jaffe, New York resident and longtime advocate for people with severe mental illness, has been awarded the Treatment Advocacy Center’s 2013 Torrey Advocacy Commendation for his unwavering commitment to helping vulnerable people get access to better treatment.
Jaffe witnessed firsthand the impact of the broken mental illness treatment system after living with his sister-in-law, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“The system was horrific,” he said. “My efforts to move people with severe mental illness to the front of the line for treatment ever since have been fought tooth and nail by much of the mental health community.”
As the founder and executive director of Mental Illness Policy Org., an independent nonpartisan think-tank that advocates for better treatment options for people with severe mental illness, Jaffe says he routinely receives calls from families who are desperate to get a loved one into treatment.
“We need to ensure that the most seriously ill move to the front of the line for treatment, instead of the prisons and jails they are ending up in,” Jaffe said.
Jaffe also has served multiple terms on the board of directors of the Metro-New York City Alliance on Mental Illness, New York State Alliance for the Mentally Ill, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Treatment Advocacy Center and as a member of the leadership council at the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.
“DJ Jaffe is a powerful advocate for people with severe mental illness,” said Doris A. Fuller, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center. “He was instrumental in the passage of Kendra’s Law in New York, which has been shown to improve outcomes and significantly reduce the costs associated with treatment of people with severe mental illness, and he has toiled without pause for treatment law reforms in other states and at the federal level.”
The Torrey Advocacy Commendation is given in recognition of the courage and tenacity of individuals who selflessly advocate for the right to treatment for people too severely disabled by mental illness to recognize their own need for care.
Karen Easter, Mental Health Advocate for Assisted Outpatient Treatment