Gina Nikkel to Head Foundation for Excellence in Mental Healthcare
July 6, 2011 – Gina Nikkel, PhD, has been named the first executive director of the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Healthcare, a new national community foundation for mental health recovery that seeks to turn the rising tide of chronic mental illness and premature death through the power of philanthropy and the shared work of scientists, users and providers of mental health services and their families. Its goal is to find and promote the best ways to achieve long-term recovery and to help people with mental health challenges to thrive.
The Foundation was established in response to nationwide interest in Robert Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, and the desire to examine existing research, create support for new innovative research and programs, and sponsor symposia to build a new paradigm of care that focuses on long-term recovery and wellness. Strong evidence demonstrates that our 25-year long over-reliance on a purely medical model has not advanced mental health recovery. The number of individuals diagnosed with “chronic mental illness,” disabling enough to place them on the Social Security roles has tripled since 1987.
Nikkel has several decades of experience as a mental health therapist, an elected public official, and for the past 11 years as the executive director of the Association of Oregon Community Mental Health Programs. She has a doctorate is in education with an emphasis in social public policy and leadership from the University of Oregon.