Former first lady Rosalynn Carter to address mental health crisis Feb. 14

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter will speak about her vision for ending the mental health crisis at 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 14, in Graham Chapel at Washington University in St. Louis.

Carter has been deeply invested in the mental health field for more than three decades, emerging as a driving force for mental health when, during her husband Jimmy Carter’s administration, she became active honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health, which resulted in passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980.

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter

In her recent book, Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis, Carter and co-authors Susan K. Golant and Kathryn E. Cade offer an insightful, unsparing assessment of the state of mental health. Carter describes a system that continues to fail those in need, despite recent breakthroughs in treatment that can help most people with mental illnesses lead productive lives.

“Americans think of ourselves as decent, generous and compassionate people and for the most part we are,” Carter writes. “But we treat a large portion of our own population as if they are second class citizens. Ultimately, the way we treat people with mental illnesses in our society is a moral issue — to neglect those, who through no fault of their own, are in need runs counter to our core principles — the values of decency and equality that we hold dear.”

A panel discussion with local and state representatives of the mental health community will follow Carter’s remarks.

Panelists include:

  • Keith Schafer, EdD, director of the Department of Mental Health, State of Missouri;
  • Kathryn G. Ellis, board member of Community Treatment Inc. (COMTREA);
  • Diane McFarland, chief executive officer of the Behavioral Health Network of Greater St. Louis (BHN);
  • Jackie Lukitsch, executive director of the Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) St. Louis;
  • Susan Talve, rabbi at Central Reform Congregation Greater St. Louis Area; and
  • Enola Proctor, PhD, the Frank J. Bruno Professor of Social Work Research, associate dean for faculty and director of the Center for Mental Health Services Research at Washington University’s Brown School.

Panel attendees will receive an autographed copy of Within Our Reach as supplies last.

The two-hour lecture and panel discussion are sponsored by COMTREA, BHN, NAMI St. Louis, Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri and the Brown School.

Register for the panel discussion at

For more information, contact (314) 935-4620.