The Nordic Public Health Prize 2011 will be awarded to Professor of Psychiatry Jouko Lönnqvist for his internationally acclaimed research on the causes, spread and prevention of mental illness at population- and individual level. "We need fresh and active children and young people in the future, and not just some of them, all of them," says Professor Jouko Lönnqvist.
"Lönnqvist is best known for his successful and pioneering research at both population- and individual level into the most commonly occurring illnesses - depression, alcohol abuse and psychosis - as part of his work on devising methods for preventing suicide," said Mats Brommels, chair of the Nordic School of Public Health (NHV).
Mental illness is one of the major threats to public health. The Nordic Council of Ministers and NHV use the Public Health Prize to draw attention to important initiatives for health and well-being in the Region.
"I am deeply grateful and surprised. Positive mental health has enormous significance for the whole of society," the Professor Lönnqvist said. Lönnqvist has been the recipient of several international awards. His research has focused in particular on depressive disorders among youngsters and young adults, schizophrenia and alcohol and drug abuse linked to suicide. His academic output has far greater breadth - from genetic studies of groups suffering from mental illness to qualitative studies of social support and attitudes towards people suffering mental illness and mental health problems.
Lönnqvist has devoted the majority of his professional career to building up the Department of Mental Health and Alcohol Research (MAO) at the National
Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) as well as to international research on mental health problems, their prevalence and causes. "Lönnqvist's input was particularly significant when the first suicide-prevention programme in the world was set up in Finland, a model subsequently adopted by several other European countries and on other continents," Brommels added.
As Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Helsinki, Lönnqvist has trained several generations of the specialists now responsible for mental health care
and psychiatric treatment, a field that has undergone major changes and which research shows now works well in a Nordic perspective. "Jouko Lönnqvist is a prominent Finnish scientist who has served as a leading figure to other international researchers due to his extraordinary methodological contribution to science and to preventing mental disorders and their ultimate consequence, suicide," said his colleague, Professor Danuta Wasserman, chair of National Prevention of Suicide and Mental Ill-Health (NSAP) in Stockholm.