Advocating for Patient Care for All

June 23, 2021 by Rebecca Ruark

A gift to the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences supports mental health and related services for those most in need

Mayer Warner Martin has served on the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Psychiatry Advisory Board since its inception in 2006. She works to raise awareness for Community Psychiatry, a program which offers vital mental health and related services to patients in the Baltimore area, regardless of their ability to pay. Through a gift in her will, the proud Johns Hopkins alumna is establishing the Mayer Warner Martin Endowment for Community Psychiatry to improve patient care.

“We are extremely grateful for Mayer’s generosity. This gift will make a lasting difference for disadvantaged patients of all ages and the clinicians who care for them,” says James “Jimmy” Potash, MD, department director and psychiatrist-in-chief.

We talked to Mayer about the inspiration behind her commitment.

Portrait of Mayer Warner Martin sitting at a table and wearing a long sleeve shirt with light and dark blue circles on it.
“I think it’s important to stand in for them, to be their representative, their voice, and to give back in their place,” says Mayer Warner Martin of the patients served by Community Psychiatry.

What inspired this commitment to the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences?

The inspiration started with family. My ex-husband’s father was Benjamin M. Baker, a Johns Hopkins 1927 School of Medicine graduate and professor emeritus. He was called “the clinician’s clinician,” for believing the most important thing to medicine was patient care, and I believe that, too. Without him, I wouldn’t have known to seek out Dr. Ray DePaulo [university distinguished service professor, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences] for my depression, in the 90s. Later, my relationship with the department changed, and I went from a patient to an advisor, when I joined the Psychiatry Advisory Board. Really, my role was to educate myself on the breadth and depth of Johns Hopkins psychiatry and its funding needs.

Why do you believe psychiatry is often underfunded?

There is a stigma around mental illness that’s still being fought today. One result is that psychiatry doesn’t always receive the funding it should. Within the field, faculty and research receive more philanthropic support than the clinical piece. As a patient, I benefitted from a wonderful clinical experience, and I truly believe there’s no place like Johns Hopkins for teaching, research, and clinical care. Care for the patient, all patients, is the bedrock piece of the institution, but it sometimes gets overshadowed.

Aerial image of brick and stone city buildings that are part of the Johns Hopkins medical campus in Baltimore.
Community Psychiatry Programs at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center offer mental health services and outreach to the Baltimore community.

Can you tell us more about your advocacy for Community Psychiatry?

If you’re going to educate others, you have to educate yourself. That’s what I did through my efforts on the board and on subcommittees and taskforces. The 36 or so clinics and programs that make up Community Psychiatry try to touch patients of all ages, all around Baltimore. We would begin by taking tours of the facilities and by asking division heads what they needed. There are always urgent needs — such as staff professional development, coats in winter, and transportation to and from clinics — and there are long-term needs. My advocacy work has been a wonderful learning experience. Then, the idea is to go out, educate others, and bring them into the fold as benefactors.

How did you come to focus on underserved communities?

In many cases, Community Psychiatry is serving the poor. These patients often aren’t able to give back monetarily to the programs that benefitted them. So, I think it’s important to stand in for them, to be their representative, their voice, and to give back in their place.

Why did you choose to establish the endowment with a planned gift, and what programs did you target?

Aside from annual gifts to fund urgent needs, the best way to help, long term, is to make a planned gift. I was informed by what I learned about Community Psychiatry and decided to support the underserved through the Johns Hopkins Adult Community Psychiatry Program and Children’s Mental Health Center and Johns Hopkins Bayview Child, Adolescent, and Adult Outpatient Clinics — all in equal measure. Through my charitable donor advised fund, I’m also happy to give annually to jump-start the endowment. Believe me, these important clinics and programs appreciate knowing they’re not forgotten!

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Topics: Alumni, Friends of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Promote and Protect Health, Strengthening Partnerships