OLYMPIA – The American Psychiatric Association has awarded Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) the Jacob K. Javits Public Service Award, the highest honor it confers upon public servants.

“Over the past five years, we have had a tremendous number of people come together in our state to transform our behavioral health system,” said Dhingra, who served as the first chair of the Senate Behavioral Health Subcommittee from 2019-2021. “I am grateful to the APA, the Washington State Psychiatric Association, the Washington State Medical Association, NAMI Washington, and so many individuals who have led that work. Every single Washingtonian should be able to get the care they need, when they need it.”

The APA, which represents more than 37,000 psychiatric physicians and their patients, presents the Javits award annually to a public servant who has made a significant contribution on behalf of people with mental illness or suffering from substance use disorder.

“The APA would like to honor you for your tireless dedication to ensuring that patients, families, and communities have access to the best possible mental health care from well-trained, high-quality providers,” Saul M. Levin, CEO and medical director of the APA, wrote in a letter to Dhingra. “Your relentless advocacy has led to the passage of critical mental health policies that have benefited patients throughout the state of Washington.

“Your leadership has been pivotal in creating a framework for 988 and the crisis response system in our state, updating and improving mental health advance directives, bolstering community transitions and improving integration within the Involuntary Treatment Act, and establishing the statewide Office for Behavioral Health Ombuds.”

The APA established the award in 1986 to honor the legacy of Jacob K. Javits, who represented New York state in the U.S. Senate from 1957 to 1981, championing the cause of care for people with mental illness and substance abuse.

Past recipients of the Jacob K. Javits Public Service Award include U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Assistant U. S. Secretary for Health Rachel Levine, U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), and U.S. Sen. Olympia Snow (R-ME).