County Fare: Austen Riggs Center honors two with awards

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The Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge recently granted its inaugural Four Freedoms of Mental Health Award to U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Carol Gilligan, a professor at New York University and visiting professor at the University of Cambridge.

The awards were presented as part of a special centennial celebration and award ceremony Sept. 21 hosted by actor and director Sam Waterston at the Linde Center for Music and Learning at Tanglewood in Lenox. Murphy accepted the award via a videotaped message.

The awards were established to push back against the mental health care trend of prescribing medication instead of seeking to understand the context and origin of a patient's suffering, according to a release by the center. The award honors an individual's or a group's work to advance the cause of accessible, quality mental health care in the United States, and to help those with mental illness realize the "Four Freedoms of Mental Health," which Riggs has identified as freedom from stigma, freedom from dehumanizing treatment, freedom to pursue recovery, and freedom of access to medically necessary treatment.

Gilligan, a founding member of the Erikson Council of Scholars, an advisory group of the Austen Riggs Center's Erikson Institute for Education and Research, was honored for "her work to deepen our understanding of humanity and to promote a culture that values human relationships, trust and empathy."

Murphy was recognized for "his leadership in the U.S. Senate on mental health issues and his advocacy for access to medically necessary treatment." He is co-author, with U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, of the Mental Health Parity Compliance Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate in June "to strengthen parity in mental health and substance use disorder benefit."

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.

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