David Shern, Ph.D., would like to bridge the gap between knowledge and
The National Mental Health Association (NMHA) will soon gain a new leader
with decades of experience in mental health policy and services research.
David Shern, Ph.D., will begin official duties as president and CEO of the
NMHA in June on a part-time basis; he will assume full-time duties in
Former NMHA President Michael Faenza stepped down in November 2005.
"Dr. Shern's leadership will enable the NMHA to make significant
inroads in public opinion, policies, and services for the mental health of all
Americans," said Sergio Aguilar, acting chair of the NMHA in a written
The NMHA is a nonprofit organization established in 1909 to improve the
mental health of Americans through advocacy, education, research, and
Before accepting the new position with the NMHA, Shern served as professor
and dean of the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute at the
University of South Florida in Tampa.
In addition, Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Shern to the Florida Commission on
Mental Health and Substance Abuse in 2000. His fellow commissioners elected
him to chair the commission. As chair, he sought to improve mental health care
across a wide spectrum of settings in the state, including juvenile justice,
child welfare, and educational systems.
As a researcher, he raised more than $20 million as principal or
co-principal investigator on research projects funded by the National
Institute of Mental Health, the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration,
and other government agencies.
He has studied the effects of alternative service delivery strategies such
as peer counseling on mental health outcomes and the effects of Medicaid
managed mental health care on access, cost, quality of services, and
Shern said he is enthusiastic about leading the NMHA into the future.
"We are poised to take some gigantic steps forward in terms of public
acceptance, knowledge, and acceptance of mental illness," he told
Psychiatric News. "I'm excited to be part of that in some
He noted that one of the areas on which he'd like to focus as NMHA
president is the "translation of research and knowledge into policy and
practice," an area in critical need of improvement, Shern said.
Prior to serving as dean of the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health
Institute, Shern was founding director of the National Center for the Study of
Issues in Public Mental Health, a mental health services research center
located in the New York Office of Mental Health.
He also directed the Office of Mental Health's evaluation and services
research initiatives. ▪