May 02, 2005

Joseph Rogers Success Story

Joseph Rogers, Mental Health Advocate, Wins $250,000 Heinz Award

An advocate for user-designed mental health programs whose personal experiences and frustrations with the mental health care system helped propel the field’s “consumer” movement, Joseph Rogers has provided impassioned, visionary leadership in transforming mental health care in this country. Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at age 19 and told that he was incapable of holding a job, Mr. Rogers descended into a life of homelessness and desolation until he eventually found treatment and a place to stay at a YMCA in New Jersey. After fate led him to a job as an outreach worker at a mental health center, he moved to Philadelphia, where he began work in 1984 at the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (MHASP), then a small non-profit agency with a dozen staff members. Over the last 20 years, he has transformed MHASP into a $14-million organization with 300 staff, the majority of whom have mental illness. He is now president and CEO.

Mr. Rogers soon began exhorting a new philosophy for mental health care, one based on the principle that individuals who have shared similar experiences can help themselves and each other. In 1984, under MHASP’s auspices, he founded the Self-Help and Advocacy Resource Exchange (Project SHARE), which become the umbrella organization for programs that provide such essential services as peer support, drop-in centers, housing, homeless outreach, mentoring and job training. Today, MHASP operates 40 such programs. In 1986, with federal funding, Mr. Rogers founded the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse. The clearinghouse provides thousands of U.S. mental health consumers and consumer-run organizations with the tools to be successful advocates and to establish and operate peer-run services. Most recently, he has been active in working to reform the methods used by police in apprehending at-risk individuals with mental illness.

Source: Heinz Awards

More Information:

Heinz Awards Announcement

Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (MHASP)

Related News Stories:

MIT Professor Amon Heinz Award Winners (Boston Globe).


I believe there is too much focus on stigma which is only perception,when exploitation of those suffering unmedicated mental illness is the larger problem.Those suffering an unmedicated illness are taken an advantage of while sick and vulnerable and are also used as weapons against their families by the court system.Exploitation has long-lasting and permanent negative and devastating repurcussions,while stigma,again,is how you are perceived.

Posted by: Elaine Mickman at May 7, 2006 05:02 AM

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