A quick glance around Dr. Chandlee Dickey’s office reveals a myriad of awards and degrees from top institutions such as John Hopkins Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Beyond her many accolades, however, Dr. Dickey is down to earth and a compassionate supporter of mental health care.
What drives you to advocate for mental health care service delivery?
On a humanitarian level, I can see many people suffering – those who are struggling with mental illness and addictions, as well as their family and friends. On an economic level, one of the biggest burdens globally is loss of work due to mental illness. It preferentially hits our young before they have a chance to develop themselves and find stable work – it can change their life trajectory. So I advocate on behalf of them because they need people to talk about it. They need to know that we’re behind them and that it should be treated like any other illness.
How did your prior research help fight stigma?
I studied schizotypal personality disorder (SPD), which is similar to schizophrenia but not as severe. Studying brain scans of patients with SPD was a way of understanding what’s going on in the brain of someone with disorders like schizophrenia without the impact of medication, which further alters the brain. We were able to show that these patients did have differences in their brain biology. This was an important step towards addressing stigma.
How does philanthropy impact you?
The donors that I’ve met so far – whether they’ve received care themselves or through a loved one – want to make a difference for mental health care and addictions in our community. They’re not doing it for themselves; they’re doing it for future patients. That forward-looking and generous mindset is so admirable and compelling. I look forward to working collaboratively with these passionate community members.
Hobbies: Hiking and backpacking. “I love the peacefulness of the woods.”
Favourite book: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. “It challenges us to be our best selves.”
People to look up to: Martin Luther King Jr., Thich Nhat Hanh, Ghandi, Michelle Obama
Before medical school: Dr. Dickey did an exchange semester in rural Thailand when she was 17 and it inspired her to pursue East Asian Studies in university. In her senior year, she took “Biology for Poets” as an elective and was immediately drawn to the fascinating world of medicine.