Abby Wasserman, center

Image caption: Abby Wasserman, center

Credit: Photograph Courtesy of Johns Hopkins Alumni Association

On call for community mental health

When psychiatrist and pediatrician Abby Wasserman, A&S '67, Med '70 (MD), received repeated calls from Westchester County, New York, schools about "out-of-control" preschoolers, she didn't jump to a diagnosis. Instead, as clinical director of the county's Crisis Prevention and Response Team, she investigated the social determinants, discovering major anxiety and depression among the children's mothers, who recently immigrated to the United States, spoke little English, and lacked support.

To help, Wasserman created twice-weekly support groups for the Spanish-speaking moms, and "the schools stopped calling," she says. All in a day's work for Wasserman, a recipient of the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association's 2022 Community Champion Award for serving 10-plus years on the front lines of mental health crises, from advising social workers and first responders to handling 911 and 988 calls for psychiatric emergencies.

Wasserman retired from the position this past summer but remains a consultant.

"I'm looking at my wall of awards, and this one means so much," Wasserman says. "My closest friends, my clinical approach—all of that comes from Hopkins."

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