Ajit Jetmalani, M.D. has been advocating for the well-being of Oregon children and families on several levels for more than 20 years, warranting serious consideration for the 2010 Mental Health Award for Excellence. Between working on public policy with psychotropic medications with foster children and the integration of physical and mental health in the children's system, encouraging innovative approaches in empowering youth in their own lives, improving how adults work with youth through the Collaborative Problem Solving approach and for his broad biopsychosocial approach to teaching and training a generation of child psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, he has had a major impact on Oregon child and family mental health.
Dr. Jetmalani has consistently advocated for Oregon youth in several public arenas in recent years. His belief that integrating physical and mental health is key to improving the lives of Oregon youth has been evident in his work on the Children's System Advisory Committee (CSAC) and the CSAC issue brief on integration that was recently passed. His belief that licensed medical professionals generally focus too much on medications and too little on improving the psychosocial aspects of youths' lives was also a key aspect to the need for integration of physical and mental health, as well as his role on the state advisory committee on HB 3114 as our state looks to be wiser in our treatment of foster children. His belief that adults in our state can work better with struggling youth led him to advocate for Collaborative Problem Solving on both a program level (leading to program philosophy change in a residential program, with a major reduction in seclusion and restraint) as well as a training level with the OHSU Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Director of Fellowship Training. His fundamental belief that youth can be empowered to make gains led to his collaboration with Portland State University on the Pathways Transition Training Collaboration (PTTC).
While most associate Dr. Jetmalani with improving the public sector health in our state, many may not realize that he was responsible for the lives of almost one million Oregonians for the decade of the 1990's as medical director of Providence Health Plan, Behavioral Health Division, and as medical director of Providence's Children's Behavioral Health Center. He put a focus on patient satisfaction as part of feedback to clinicians.
One might look at his exceptional training and clinical experiences on all levels as a child psychiatrist in understanding his passionate advocacy. But his integrity and promotion of resiliency and recovery are grounded in his unique experience with our health system ? to the great benefit of Oregon children and families. Dr. Jetmalani deserves the 2010 Mental Health Award for Excellence.
Kirk D. Wolfe, M.D.