Professional News
Group’s Founder Recognized for Contributions to Vets’ MH Care
Psychiatric News
Volume 47 Number 10 page 7a-7a

Time magazine honored psychologist Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D., in April as one of its 100 most-influential people in the world.

Van Dahlen founded Give an Hour in 2005. The nonprofit organization connects volunteer psychiatrists and other mental health professionals with current and former military personnel and their families for an hour of free therapy each week.

Give an Hour has linked service members and their families with more than 6,100 providers who have contributed nearly 50,000 hours of their clinical time. APA’s American Psychiatric Foundation (APF) has allied with Give an Hour in a series of ongoing public-education initiatives addressing military mental health issues.

“The American Psychiatric Foundation is very proud to be partners with Give an Hour,” APF Executive Director Paul Burke told Psychiatric News. “In our opinion, Barbara Van Dahlen richly deserves this recognition and honor.”

Her initial reaction to the Time honor was “shock!” said Van Dahlen in an interview with Psychiatric News.

“It was a huge gift,” she emphasized. “This is a platform that I will be able to use to do more of what we’ve been doing.”

Give an Hour continues its central mission of providing direct care but also coordinates employment and educational support, infused with knowledge and information about mental health, she said.

The organization also continues to work with other initiatives like the White House’s Joining Forces and the Community Blueprint, which Van Dahlen also helped found (Psychiatric News, July 15, 2011).

“We’re growing both wider and deeper,” she said. “Military personnel are coming home with needs, and it’s clear that citizens across the country want to give and want to serve. The better we can fit those two together, the better we will all be.”

APF has helped Give an Hour in exploring use of the media in ways it hadn’t been able to do before, said Van Dahlen. The organization has been featured on two episodes of the “Healthy Minds” PBS television series, hosted by Jeffery Borenstein, M.D. (who is also editor in chief of Psychiatric News).

Give an Hour also is working with APF to develop public-service tools to explain its mission and the importance of the larger American community stepping up to help service members.

“Barbara has tenaciously attacked the epidemic of posttraumatic stress disorder, helping break through the stigma that prevents many from seeking help,” former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. (Ret.) Mike Mullen wrote for the citation in Time. “She has served thousands nobly and has been an extraordinary example for all of us in her life and her giving.” inline-graphic-1.gif

Barbara Van Dahlen’s entry on the Time 100 list is posted at www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2111975_2111976_2111964,00.html. Information about Give an Hour is posted at www.giveanhour.org.

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