Austen Riggs Center Announces 2019 Centennial Conference, Addressing The Mental Health Crisis in America



Annual Fall Conference Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Renowned Psychiatric Hospital

Stockbridge, MA – January 23, 2019 – The Austen Riggs Center (Riggs) will convene a conference of national and international experts in the fields of mental health care, treatment, research, advocacy, and the law to explore The Mental Health Crisis in America: Recognizing Problems, Working Toward Solutions, it was announced today by Eric M. Plakun, MD, Medical Director and CEO of the Austen Riggs Center. The two-day conference, scheduled for September 21-22, 2019, will take place in Stockbridge, MA.

The Austen Riggs Center, founded in 1919 by Dr. Austen Fox Riggs in Stockbridge, MA, has thrived for 100 years with a unique “open setting” campus and state-of-the-art psychodynamic care emphasizing individual psychotherapy for people with complex psychiatric problems. This, along with significant contributions to research and clinical training, have established Riggs as a leading psychiatric hospital and residential treatment center in the US. 

“Our mental health system is broken, and the statistics are sobering: suicide rates have increased 30%, homeless individuals struggling with mental disorders are part of the urban streetscape, the opioid crisis is exploding, and emergency room boarding of patients who need psychiatric care is a growing problem,” said Plakun. “We are convening this conference on behalf of Americans who are dealing with profound mental health issues, and to tackle critical concerns, both clinical issues and those related to access to care, which is often improperly limited to symptom relief or crisis stabilization rather than the treatment of important underlying problems.”

The 2019 Riggs Fall Conference will examine crucial issues including:

  • Complex Psychiatric Problems: “Moving the Needle” to Achieve Better Patient Outcomes
  • Suicide on the Increase: Assessing Causes, Contributors, and Collateral Damage
  • Treatment Goals: Crisis Stabilization or Recovery?
  • Mental Health Parity Law: Implementation Through Top-Down and Bottom-Up Change
  • Hope Through Engagement: Innovative Solutions to Clinical Challenges

The conference brings together recognized experts, including Riggs clinical staff, to explore these problems, offer vital perspectives, and work toward solutions. Key contributors include:  

  • Anita Everett, MD, DFAPA, Director of the Center for Mental Health Services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • Peter Fonagy, PhD, OBE, FMedSci, FAcSS, FBA, Head of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College London (UCL) and Chief Executive of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (London)
  • Tom Insel, MD, Co-founder and President of Mindstrong Health and former Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • Harold Kudler, MD, Psychoanalyst, Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, and former Chief Consultant for Mental Health Services at the US Veterans Health Administration (VA)
  • Saul Levin, MD, MPA, FRCP-E, Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and Clinical Professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Nancy McWilliams, PhD, ABPP, Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, Author, and Visiting Professor at Rutgers University Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology
  • Caroline E. Reynolds, Esq., Partner at Zuckerman Spaeder, LLC, and Plaintiff Counsel for Wit v. United Behavioral Health

For the latest conference news and more details, visit www.austenriggs.org/CentennialConference. Limited media passes for the conference are available upon request through the Riggs communications office. 

About the Austen Riggs Center

Now in its centennial year, the Austen Riggs Center, located in Stockbridge, MA, is a leading psychiatric hospital and residential treatment program that has been serving adults since 1919. Within an open setting, patients participate in an intensive treatment milieu that emphasizes respectful engagement. Individual psychodynamic psychotherapy is provided four times a week by doctors on staff. The Erikson Institute for Education and Research of the Austen Riggs Center studies individuals in their social contexts through research, training, education, and outreach programs in the local community and beyond. Riggs is ranked a top-ten “Best Hospital in Psychiatry” by U.S. News & World Report. For more information, visit www.austenriggs.org.



Aaron M. Beatty                                    Maurie Perl                              Dan Scheffey
Riggs Communications Officer             maurie@maurieperl.com         dan@scheffey.net
aaron.beatty@austenriggs.net             (917) 678-8072                        (917) 647-7626
(413) 931-5245