Rosalynn Carter, Former First Lady and Mental Health Advocate, Dead at 96

by Staff Writer
November 19, 2023 at 4:14 PM UTC

Rosalynn Carter, former first lady and mental health advocate, passed away on November 19, 2023, at the age of 96.

Clinical Relevance: Rosalynn Carter was a lifelong advocate for mental health causes

  • Rosalynn Carter, former first lady and an early champion for mental health causes, passed away at the age of 96.
  • Among her many accomplishments, Carter founded the Carter Center an Atlanta-based organization that focuses on improving life quality through health and peace initiatives.
  • She was also concerned about the psychological burdens placed on caregivers. She wrote three books on the topic and the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers was founded in her honor.

Rosalynn Carter, former first lady and an early champion for mental health causes, passed away on November 19, 2023, at the age of 96. She was the wife of Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, and the longest-married first lady in history. Born in Plains, Georgia, she married Jimmy Carter in 1946 and supported him throughout his naval, political, and humanitarian careers.

Donald Triplett, Autism ‘Case 1’, Passes Away at Age 89

Focus on Geriatric Psychiatry

Effect of Care Burden and Personality Traits of Caregivers

Lifelong Mental Health Advocacy

In addition to her many accomplishments, she was a fierce advocate for mental health causes. She was a member of the Governor’s Commission to Improve Services to the Mentally and Emotionally Handicapped when her husband was governor of Georgia. As active honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health during President Carter’s administration, she helped bring about passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980.

In 1982 she and the former president established the Carter Center. She was involved with the organization until her death. The goal of the Atlanta-based group is to improve life quality globally through health and peace initiatives.

Carter’s pivotal role as a communicator of mental health causes began in 1985 with the Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy, uniting numerous organizations to tackle key issues. Over three decades, these symposia have addressed a range of topics, from elderly mental health to combating stigma. A notable highlight was the 2013 celebration of mental health parity regulations at the 29th Annual Symposium.

Recognizing the need for local action, Carter founded the annual Georgia Mental Health Forum in 1996, fostering statewide collaboration for a robust mental health care system. Under her leadership, The Carter Center Mental Health Task Force sets the agenda for ongoing mental health programs and symposia, ensuring continued impact. Additionally, the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism, launched in the same year, became a key international program in fighting mental health stigma.

Supporting Caregiver Mental Health

Carter was especially concerned about the mental wellbeing of caregivers. The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (RCI) was established in her honor. It focuses on supporting those caring for individuals with mental illnesses, chronic conditions, and disabilities. By promoting the mental health and well-being of caregivers through research, education, and training, the RCI emphasizing effective caregiving practices and public awareness. In 1994 she wrote Helping Yourself Help Others: A Book for Caregivers, co-authored with Susan Golant. In 1998, she wrote Helping Someone with Mental Illness: A Compassionate Guide for Family, Friends, and Caregivers. Both titles provided valuable insights into compassionate caregiving, with the latter winning the 1999 American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Book Award.

In May 2010, Carter intensified her fight for mental health equity with the publication of Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis, co-authored with Susan Golant and Kathryn Cade. The book was a deeply personal narrative of her advocacy journey. By offering an unsparing look at the state of mental health care, it drew upon stories from both consumers and professionals. She highlighted a healthcare system that she felt often failed those in need despite significant scientific advancements.

Honoring Her Work

Carter’s dedication to mental health causes earned her numerous honors, including the 2018 Bill Foege Global Health Award, the Volunteer of the Decade Award from the National Mental Health Association, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. Accolades also included the Dorothea Dix Award, the Nathan S. Kline Medal of Merit, and the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health. As an Honorary Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, her induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame showcased her profound impact in the field of mental health advocacy.

Carter, one of the most beloved First Ladies of all time, leaves behind her husband, four children, twelve grandchildren, and fourteen great-grandchildren.

Severity of Antipsychotic-Induced Cervical Dystonia Assessed by the Algorithm-Based Rating System

Rater consensus data were compared with deviation angle data using AI-based deviation angle measurement technology. With the range of tilt angles found in the study, the authors propose a global standard for evaluating abnormal deviation severity in cervical dystonia for future d...

Toshiya Inada and others

Unlocking Therapeutic Potential: The Role of Theta Burst Stimulation in Multiple Sclerosis Management

Theta burst stimulation interventions may hold promise in addressing specific multiple sclerosis symptoms, notably fatigue and spasticity.

David F. Lo and others