NAMI Pays Tribute to Former Board Member Dr. H. Richard Lamb

8/19/2019

NAMI mourns the passing of Dr. H. Richard Lamb following an illness. Dr. Lamb, an eminent psychiatrist, served on the NAMI Board of Directors from 2005 to 2009.
 
Dr. Lamb devoted his career to serving people with the most severe mental illnesses. His work particularly focused on people who experience homelessness or are involved with criminal justice systems. He was one of the first people nationally to document that many people released from state hospitals after long periods of institutionalization experienced homelessness or incarceration, writing articles about this topic as early as the 1970’s.  
 
One of Dr. Lamb’s most important studies assessed people with severe mental illness incarcerated in Los Angeles’ infamous Twin Towers jail. Through his research, he was able to document that many of these people had been charged with relatively minor, non-violent offenses that were a direct consequence of their untreated mental illness. He also documented that many of these people spent months or years in jail awaiting competency restoration rather than being diverted to the mental health system for treatment. His research was prescient in that the problems he documented exist in many parts of the country today.
 
Dr. Lamb graduated from Yale Medical School and was appointed as Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Southern California (USC) School of Medicine in 1976.  He remained as a full professor at USC through 2006 when he became Professor Emeritus.   Dr. Lamb published six books and more than 140 peer reviewed articles during his distinguished career.   
 
In recognition of his important work and career long dedication to public sector psychiatry, Dr. Lamb received a number of awards including NAMI’s Don and Peggy Richardson Memorial Award for Distinguished Service in 2003 and the Arnold L. Van Ameringen award in Psychiatric Rehabilitation. He also served as Chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Taskforce on Homelessness and Mental illness and on the Board of Directors of the Treatment Advocacy Center.
 
Dr. Lamb was a modest and quiet man, which often masked his subtle wit and exceptional intellect. He was not one to dominate conversations or impose his views on others but was always happy to provide his knowledge and wisdom on topics relevant to NAMI’s mission. He will be greatly missed.