Chair Jürgen Unützer named a Changemaker of Public Health for expanding access to effective mental health care

Department news | October 15, 2020

To celebrate the UW School of Public Health’s 50 years of impact, the School is recognizing 50 alumni from around the world who have a demonstrated record of distinguished service and achievement across public health disciplines and settings. These 50 Changemakers of Public Health are leaders, trailblazers, educators, innovators, influencers and health equity heroes that represent just a slice of the School’s community of more than 10,000 alumni worldwide who are addressing some of the most pressing population health issues of our time.

One of the Changemakers is Jürgen Unützer, MD, MPH, MA, Professor and Chair in the UW Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Dr. Unützer is an internationally recognized psychiatrist and researcher whose work has improved access to evidence-based mental health care in primary care settings. Given the high prevalence of conditions such as depression, anxiety, alcohol and substance use, Dr. Unützer understood that relying only on psychiatrists and other mental health specialists to provide care could never meet the need. In response, he founded the AIMS Center at UW, which since 2007 has trained more than 6,000 clinicians in a model of collaborative care that has proven effective in more than 80 randomized controlled trials around the world, including low-resource countries.

Dr. Unützer is working to improve access and quality of mental health care for underserved rural and urban communities and to ‘move mental health care upstream’ by promoting perinatal mental health services for high risk families. In addition to mentoring graduate and postdoctoral students, he has served as an advisor to local, national and international agencies, including the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  

Read more about the 50 Changemakers of Public Health