Clinical Excellence, Research and Service Acknowledged with Awards
October 1, 2003
This is the last of the series of 2002 ISTSS award winners, featuring recipients of the Sarah Haley Award for Clinical Excellence and the Chaim Danieli Young Professional Award. These awards were presented at the ISTSS 2002 annual meeting.
The Sarah Haley Award
The 2002 Sarah Haley Award for Clinical Excellence went to Robert Abramovitz, MD, chief psychiatrist at the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, and director of its Center for Trauma Program Innovation (CTPI). Abramovitz was recognized for his strategic thinking and leadership in introducing innovative trauma-focused programming and field research into the JBFCS network of 180 community-based mental health programs, bringing new trauma services to hundreds of traumatized people. The CTPI has won agency-wide acceptance, increased trauma-related competence among practitioners working within and outside of JBFCS, developed new programs for 9-11 victims, became part of the SAMHSA National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and formed important local, national and international collaborations.
Abramovitz trained as an adult and child psychiatrist at Yale University School of Medicine and Yale University Child Study Center. He was an associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center for 15 years before coming to JBFCS in 1983. During the past 35 years, Abramovitz's work ensured that low-income children of all race and ethnic groups gained access to effective services.
Abramovitz's work has consistently focused on issues of trauma, violence and children's mental health. He frequently is invited to lecture, conduct workshops and present at professional conferences--and publishes on these issues. He is regularly interviewed by the print and broadcast media. Abramovitz also has co-written award-winning films, videotapes and a TV special about children's development. Abramovitz's work reflects his lifelong commitment to excellent services, interdisciplinary collaboration, teaching, and program evaluation.
Chaim Danieli Young Professional Award
Mark van Ommeren, PhD, received the 2002 Chaim Danieli Young Professional Award for his research and clinical activities to alleviate human suffering. He organized research for an underserved, severely traumatized group of people, which was reflected in the title of his thesis, defended in 2000 at the Faculty of Medicine at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam: "Impact of Torture: Psychiatric Epidemiology Among Bhutanese Refugees in Nepal." His research shows a refined understanding of methodology.
Van Ommeren reflects the international character of trauma and of the society. He was born in the Netherlands, studied in Canada, has worked in Canada, Cambodia, Uganda, Indonesia, India, Fiji, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and Nepal. He and his wife live in France. He has seen first hand that trauma is a global problem that requires a broad yet culturally appropriate approach.
Van Ommeren is the resource person on disaster and refugee mental health within the World Health Organization (WHO). Before joining WHO, he worked for six years with the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization, during which he was stationed for three and one-half years at the Centre for Victims of Torture, Nepal. He and his colleagues have reported on a range of population-based low-income country refugee studies in leading journals, including Archives of General Psychiatry and JAMA. Van Ommeren's articles have a particular focus on validity issues associated with implementing epidemiological studies in non-Western settings.
At the same time, he has co-developed a highly successful four-month internship model for sustainable training of Nepalese paraprofessional helpers. Van Ommeren is member of the ISTSS Task Force of International Trauma Training, which has set and published guidelines to improve training efforts of international mental health experts who seek to help in the aftermath of disaster. At WHO, among other things, he is involved in developing advice for local emergency public health officers to ensure responsible use of psychological and social interventions in the field. He recently led the drafting of the mental and social health section in the forthcoming, revised Sphere Handbook, an influential handbook on international disaster response, which is used worldwide.
The 2003 ISTSS award winners will be announced at the 19th annual meeting in Chicago. Watch for details in the winter 2004 issue of StressPoints.