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American Psychiatric Association Honors Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman With Jacob K. Javits Award for Public Service

  • June 07, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 7, 2021 – On Saturday, during its online federal advocacy conference, the American Psychiatric Association conferred the highest award it gives a public servant, the Jacob K. Javits Award, to Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ). Rep. Watson Coleman is being honored for her career record of public service on mental health, including her recent activities with the Congressional Black Caucus to prevent suicides in Black youth and her staunch support of the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act.

Each year, APA confers the Jacob K. Javits Award to a federal and or state public servant who has made outstanding contributions to the profession of psychiatry and mental health advocacy. APA established the award in 1986 in honor of Senator Javits, who represented New York State in the U.S. Senate from 1957 to 1981.

“Rep. Watson Coleman’s leadership is critical to our nation’s mental health,” said APA President Vivian Pender, M.D. “Her focus on health equities goes beyond simply funding the services that are needed, but to a wider lens of understanding how social determinants are impacting the mental health of diverse communities around the nation.”

Rep. Watson Coleman is the first Black woman to represent New Jersey in Congress. Before her election to the House of Representatives, Watson Coleman served eight consecutive terms in the New Jersey General Assembly. She became the first Black woman to serve as Majority Leader, and as the Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. She is also the first Black woman to win the Javits Award.

“I’m deeply honored to receive the Javits Award. I am also grateful to the APA for their efforts in fighting youth suicide. When I formed the Congressional Black Caucus’s Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health I immediately recognized the seriousness of the work we were doing. The pain that had struck so many families was a constant reminder of this. I was also humbled by the outpouring of support and resources by the mental health community including organizations like the American Psychiatric Association and recognize that the work we’ve accomplished so far would not have been possible without their efforts,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman.

“I’m so pleased APA is presenting Rep. Watson Coleman with this award,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “She is such an important ally in Congress for us and for all people with mental illness and substance use disorders, and her leadership is bringing real, positive change to communities.”

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with 37,400 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit



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