Jean Campbell stumbled into the mental health consumer/survivor movement as a graduate student in California when she saw an ad for a researcher – but it had a twist.
“Persons with mental illness are encouraged to apply,” Campbell remembered reading on the ad, which was placed by the California Network of Mental Health Clients. “This was the opportunity that coaxed me out of the closet to publically and privately confront my bipolar condition.”
Campbell, who also has mania and depression, went on to carve a successful career as a distinguished researcher and mental health consumer advocate and has been recognized as a leader in promoting a recovery-based mental health system. For 21 years she worked as a research professor in mental health at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. She retired this past June.
On Aug. 13 she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration during the 2014 Voice Awards in Los Angeles. She received the honor for her work as a national mental health advocate and her tireless pursuit in helping other individuals address their own mental health issues.
“This award crowns a three-decade adventure of exploration and discovery for myself and for the Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Movement,” she said in her acceptance speech, as she cradled her psychiatric service dog Beethoven, whom she credited for keeping her socially connected and making her laugh.
For three-decades Campbell has shown extraordinary leadership in advancing the recovery movement through consumer-focused research and evaluation. She advanced the understanding of mental health issues for individuals that have them and has pushed for a more-efficient delivery of mental health services. Also, she’s been on the forefront of the important changes a consumer perspective could bring to the coming transformation of mental health services. She has worked with mental health agencies in 13 states on performance measurement systems.
She is probably best known for her role as the principle investigator of the MIMH Coordinating Center for the Consumer-Operated Services Programs Multisite Research Initiative, the largest and most rigorous study of peer-run programs in history.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch