William A. Anthony established the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation in 1979 and served as Executive Director until his retirement in 2011. Over his 40-year career as a psychologist, Dr. Anthony was a major contributor to the field of psychiatric rehabilitation and the emergence of recovery as a vision for people with psychiatric conditions. Bill’s inspirational leadership guided us through multiple paradigm shifts to ensure the possibility of recovery and regaining valued roles for individuals living with psychiatric conditions.
In 1988, Dr. Anthony received the Distinguished Services Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in recognition of “…his efforts that challenge outdated ideas which limit the potential of mentally ill people. The innovative programs created through Bill Anthony’s leadership offer hope and opportunity.” Bill appeared on ABC’s Nightline, which featured a rehabilitation program developed and implemented by Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Ted Koppell, a noted journalist and television broadcaster, characterized it as: “a small beacon of sanity in dealing with the problems of those whose sanity has crumbled.” In 1992 Anthony received the Distinguished Service Award from the President of the United States for his efforts “…in promoting the dignity, equality, independence and employment of people with disabilities.” He authored over 100 articles in professional journals, 16 textbooks, and several dozen book chapters and served as co-editor of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal until his retirement.
Dr. Anthony’s legacy in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation and recovery is immeasurable. He led with his heart and advocated for the notion that people with psychiatric conditions are people first: they have the same rights as others to a healthy, productive, and full life in communities of their choice. He articulated the value of personhood and embedded it into the service programs we implement, the research questions we study, and the practices and systems we seek to change so that we can support the recovery of individuals who live with psychiatric conditions. Bill courageously challenged the mental health and rehabilitation fields to invest in recovery and to transform their people, programs and systems in order to improve the lives of individuals with mental health challenges.