Pulitzer Prizes Focus on Mental Illness for Second Year in a Row

Each Year’s Winners Previously Received NAMI Outstanding Media Awards

Statement of Richard C. Birkel, Ph.D., National Executive Director

Apr 08 2003

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is proud to congratulate Clifford Levy and The New York Times for winning the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting for their series on abuses in adult homes for people with mental illnesses.

In 2001, NAMI awarded Levy and the New York Times its Outstanding Media Award in investigative reporting for their initial reporting on adult home scandals. See "Inquiry Finds Mentally Ill Patients Endured Assembly Line Surgery" (March 18, 2001) and "For Mentally Ill, Chaos In An Intended Refuge" (April 18, 2001) by Clifford Levy and Sarah Kershaw.

In 2002, the Pulitzer Committee awarded the prize in Editorial Writing to Alex Raksin and Bob Sipchen of the Los Angeles Times for exemplary leadership in addressing issues facing homeless people with severe mental illness. Similarly, NAMI previously had awarded the Los Angeles Times and Mr. Raksin specifically its Outstanding Media Award for Editorial Writing in 2001.

The fact that the winners of NAMI media awards in 2001 have gone on to receive Pulitzer Prizes in two successive years is testament to the seriousness and urgency of the ongoing crisis in the nation’s mental healthcare system, including housing. We hope that other reporters and media will follow their lead and focus on conditions and options in their own communities—particularly now that President Bush’s "New Freedom" Commission on Mental Health is moving toward making its final report and recommendations. Sustained reporting is essential to reform of a system in shambles.