Sparta child psychiatrist receives prestigious award

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:43

Sparta — Child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Debra E. Koss was awarded the prestigious Exemplary Psychiatrist Award for 2011 by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI is a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons with mental illness and supporting and educating the family members who love and care for them. Koss was presented with the award at NAMI New Jersey’s annual holiday luncheon on Saturday, Dec. 10, in Monroe, NJ. She was nominated for the national award by NAMI New Jersey for going the extra mile to help NAMI educate families, the public, and professionals about mental illness, and to fight against stigma which creates barriers to effective treatment and recovery. Koss has had a private practice in child and adolescent psychiatry in her home town of Sparta since 1999. She is also a clinical assistant professor at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Medicine and received her residency training and fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. She is currently the president of the New Jersey Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and serves as the New Jersey Advocacy Liaison to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is actively involved in advocacy, both at the state and national levels, in order to increase awareness regarding mental illness in our youth and to promote the importance of improved access to early intervention and treatment. In 2010, Koss was the primary organizer of a New Jersey Forum in Children’s Health, which brought together speakers to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the current systems of care for children with psychiatric illnesses and to collaborate on ways to improve these systems. Koss works with NAMI New Jersey’s School Programs to instruct educators about the biological basis and symptoms of mental illness in children and adolescents. She is a presenter and reviewer in NAMI New Jersey’s professional development program for school personnel, Educating the Educators. This program offers educators information and strategies for helping children with psychiatric disorders to succeed in school. To this date, Educating the Educators has been presented to over 5500 educators throughout the state of New Jersey. Koss often collaborates with the Sussex County affiliate of NAMI to help raise awareness about the mental health needs of children and teens. In May 2011, Koss, NAMI-Sussex and the Family Support Organization of Morris/Sussex joined forces to present a public awareness program on childhood depression called Speak Up for Kids. A similar event on the topic of childhood and adolescent bipolar disorder is planned for May 9, 2012.