UC Berkeley psychology professor receives recognition for mental health contributions

Photo of Stephen Hinshaw
Stephen Hinshaw served as chair of UC Berkeley's psychology department from 2004 to 2011, and he has served as a psychiatry professor and the vice chair for child and adolescent psychology at UCSF since 2015.

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UC Berkeley psychology professor Stephen Hinshaw has been named the recipient of the 2020 Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health.

The Sarnat Prize, awarded by the independent nonprofit National Academy of Medicine, recognizes achievement in improving mental health through basic science, clinical application or public policy. The award is supported by an endowment fund created by Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat — a licensed social worker and a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, respectively — who were concerned about the destructive effects of mental illnesses, according to a press release from the National Academy of Medicine.

Hinshaw believes he is being recognized for his research in behavioral and emotional problems and evidence-based treatments of children and adolescents, his work toward reducing the stigma of mental illness and his career in teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students.

He said he found the recognition of his career-long work “thrilling” and called the international prize “especially gratifying.”

“With the COVID-19 pandemic, increased recognition of racism, and the signs all around us of climate change, we can emerge as a stronger society,” Hinshaw said in an email. “One more accepting of the need for people with mental disorders to be accepted and receive essential care.”

Hinshaw served as chair of the campus’s psychology department from 2004 to 2011, and he has served as a psychiatry professor and the vice chair for child and adolescent psychology at UCSF since 2015.

In 2017, Hinshaw published an award-winning memoir titled “Another Kind of Madness: A Journey through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness,” which chronicles his own family’s experiences with mental illness.

He is also the author of “The Mark of Shame: Stigma of Mental Illness and an Agenda for Change,” which provides “a comprehensive history” of research on mental illness stigma, according to campus psychology chair and professor Serena Chen.

“His empirical work in this domain has focused on both dehumanization and the potential for youth-led groups to prevent stigmatization,” Chen said in an email.

In addition to his other accomplishments, Hinshaw became the co-director of the Schwab Dyslexia and Cognitive Diversity Center, a joint initiative between campus and UCSF, in September 2019.

According to Hinshaw, he and his team will be continuing a follow-up of their research project, the Berkeley Girls with ADHD Longitudinal Study, with a specific interest in understanding the high risk of self-injury in the girls as they mature. The team will also continue to investigate the potential of adolescents as “change agents” for mental illness stigma reduction, Hinshaw added.

The Sarnat Prize will be presented to Hinshaw at the National Academy of Medicine’s virtual annual meeting Oct. 19 in the form of a medal and $20,000, according to the press release.

Contact Tarunika Kapoor at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @tkapoor_dc.