APA and PaPS Joint Statement in Support of Dr. Rachel Levine’s Appointment as Assistant Secretary of Health

Washington, D.C., Feb. 1, 2021 — The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society (PaPS) today offered their formal support to the nomination of Rachel Levine, M.D., as President Biden’s Assistant Secretary of Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Dr. Levine received APA’s 2018 Javits Award for Public Service, which is the highest honor the organization gives a public servant. She was selected for the award for her leadership in Pennsylvania in fighting the opioid epidemic, her long record of promoting collaboration between physical and mental health, and her advocacy for the LGBTQ community.

Since becoming the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health in 2017, Dr. Levine has been a critical partner in efforts to improve mental health and substance use disorder care and treatment. She is a Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine and serves as president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. The administration announced Dr. Levine as its choice on Jan. 19, and she would be the first transgender person confirmed by the Senate as a federal official.

“Dr. Rachel Levine’s work fighting the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania was tremendous. She ensured pharmacies could dispense naloxone and established prescribing guidelines that saved lives,” said APA President Jeffrey Geller, M.D., M.P.H. “The United States will be well-served by her leadership as we navigate COVID-19 and its impacts on mental health.”

“Dr. Rachel Levine’s credentials as a leader in medicine are impeccable. She’s well known for her work with patients with eating disorders and co-occurring mental illness,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “She will be an important voice for everyone in the Administration, including members of the LGBTQ community and for those with mental health and substance use disorders. We urge the Senate to confirm her appointment as soon as it has the opportunity.”

“Dr. Levine consistently demonstrated she was a Secretary of Health in Pennsylvania who worked to better the well-being of all its citizens no matter if they agreed with her, where they lived or how they voted,” said Richard R. Silbert, M.D., DLFAPA, PaPS President. “Working closely with our Society, she has made it her mission to reduce stigma and advance the availability of evidenced-based, holistic and affordable mental health treatment and services for all individuals seeking assistance. Although we will miss her leadership, guidance and quiet persistence, the Biden Administration will be in excellent hands as they navigate through this new chapter in the history of our country.”

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 more than 38,800 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 www.psychiatry.org.

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