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Remembering Wayne S. Fenton, M.D.

Statement of Michael J. Fitzpatrick, M.S.W.
Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness

September 5, 2006

NAMI is deeply saddened by the tragic death on September 3, 2006, of Dr. Wayne Fenton, director of the schizophrenia research branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

NAMI’s members are individuals who live with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, and their families. Dr. Fenton’s work was devoted to them. He has long been a member of NAMI’s extended family. He was a recipient of a NAMI Exemplary Psychiatrist Award and a member of our Scientific Advisory Council.

He was committed to bridging the gap between scientific research and the actual delivery of mental health services—and to ensuring the availability of adequate care for persons who needed it.

In an article for the Washington Post in 2002 quoted today in his obituary, Dr. Fenton characteristically observed:

"All one has to do is walk through a downtown area to appreciate that the availability of adequate treatment for patients with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses is a serious problem for the country. We wouldn’t let our 80-year-old mother with Alzheimer’s live on a grate. Why is it all right for a 30-year old daughter with schizophrenia?"

Dr. Fenton’s death is a profound loss to NIMH, those who live with serious mental illnesses, and the nation.

He was a researcher, practitioner, and leader in his field. NAMI extends its condolences to his family and colleagues.

Read the statement by NIMH Director Dr. Thomas Insel.


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