Austen Riggs Center Announces Inaugural “Four Freedoms of Mental Health” Award, Recognizing a Century of Service and Advocacy





Stockbridge, MA – September 11, 2019– Mental health care in America has radically evolved in the past decades, with an increasing emphasis on viewing people as mouths to swallow pills instead of seeking to understand the context and origin of their suffering. Pushing back against that trend, the Austen Riggs Center (Riggs) today announced the establishment of the “Four Freedoms of Mental Health" Award. The inaugural award will be presented during a special Centennial Celebration and Award Presentation evening, hosted by actor and director Sam Waterston, on Saturday, September 21, 2019, at the Linde Center for Music and Learning located at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts.

2019 “Four Freedoms of Mental Health” Award honorees: 

  • Carol Gilligan, PhD– honoring “her work to deepen our understanding of humanity and to promote a culture that values human relationships, trust, and empathy”
  • Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) – saluting “his leadership in the U.S. Senate on mental health issues and his advocacy for access to medically necessary treatment”

Dr. Gilligan will accept her award in person; Senator Murphy will provide video remarks.

Behind the bold vision that led to the founding of the Austen Riggs Center in 1919, there has always been a dedicated community of psychiatrists, psychologists, advocates, and individuals who provide leadership, connection, strength, and expertise. The Four Freedoms of Mental Health Award is established to honor 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.

The Austen Riggs Center has identified the Four Freedoms of Mental Health as fundamental rights for those struggling with mental disorders, including:

  • Freedom from stigma
  • Freedom from dehumanizing treatment
  • Freedom to pursue recovery
  • Freedom of access to medically necessary treatment

In January 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the nation and proposed four fundamental freedoms that are foundations of democracy that people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy. Roosevelt identified the “Four Freedoms” as: Freedom of speech, Freedom to worship, Freedom from want, and Freedom from fear. In 1943, with the nation at war, the “Four Freedoms” were memorialized by noted American artist Norman Rockwell in his celebrated “Four Freedoms” painting series. The Riggs “Four Freedoms of Mental Health Award” is established to acknowledge a similar spirit of humanity and interdependence.

About the 2019 Honorees:

Carol Gilligan, PhD – An American feminist, ethicist, and psychologist, Gilligan is a University Professor at New York University and visiting professor at the University of Cambridge. She is author of the landmark book In a Different Voice (1982), and co-editor of The Crisis of Connection: Roots, Consequences, and Solutions (2018)She is also a founding member of the Erikson Council of Scholars, an advisory group of the Austen Riggs Center’s Erikson Institute for Education and Research. 

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) –The junior United States Senator for Connecticut, Senator Murphy has dedicated his career to public service as an advocate for Connecticut families. He has been a strong voice in the Senate fighting for job creation, affordable health care, education, sensible gun laws, and a forward-looking foreign policy. Senator Murphy served for eight years in the Connecticut General Assembly. He is co-author, with Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), of the Mental Health Parity Compliance Act (S. 1737), a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate (June 5, 2019), “to strengthen parity in mental health and substance use disorder benefit.”

The Austen Riggs Center will also convene a centennial mental health conference, The Mental Health Crisis in America: Recognizing Problems, Working Toward Solutions to be held on September 21-22 at Tanglewood’s Linde Center for Music and Learning.

Celebration and Awards Presentation Information: www.austenriggs.org/CentennialCelebration

Centennial Conference Information: www.austenriggs.org/CentennialConference


About the Austen Riggs Center

The Riggs Center is a leading psychiatric hospital and residential treatment program that has been serving adults since its founding in 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 consistently ranked a “Best Hospital in Psychiatry” by U.S. News & World Report. For more information, visit www.austenriggs.org.



John Zollinger                                   Maurie Perl                                   Dan Scheffey
Director of Communications             Perl + Scheffey                             Perl + Scheffey
Austen Riggs Center                        (917) 678-8072                             (917) 647-7626
(413) 931-5816                                 maurie.perl@gmail.com               dan@scheffey.net

Related Blogs