WASHINGTON, D.C. – The
National Association of Social Workers Foundation (NASWF) is pleased to
announce that social worker Dr. Virna Little will receive a Knee/Wittman
Outstanding Achievement Award for her pioneering work in saving lives by
integrating suicide prevention into primary and behavioral health care.
Virna Little, PsyD, LCSW-R, SAP, CCM,
recently joined The Center for Innovation in Mental Health (CIMH) at City
University of New York (CUNY) School of Public Health as Associate Director for
Clinical Innovation. Prior to assuming this position, Dr. Little served as senior
vice president of psychosocial services and community affairs for more than 20 years at the Institute for
Family Health, one the largest federally qualified, community health center in
New York State. The Institute serves about 100,000 clients each year.
Dr. Little has launched many
initiatives at the Institute to help prevent people from dying by suicide,
including a screening protocol to identify people who may be depressed and
considering suicide. This protocol has allowed hundreds of people to get proper
assessment, treatment and follow up.
“Dr. Little has been a true visionary
in adopting Zero Suicide Institute principles at the Institute For Family
Health,” said NASWF Director Robert Arnold. “Her work has literally saved the
lives of scores of people and served as an example of how this nation can
significantly reduce deaths by suicide.”
The Knee/Wittman Awards recognize individuals
who are models of excellence and have made significant contributions in the
field of health and mental health. The Knee/Wittman Award Program was
established in 1990 to recognize those who represent the values, ethics, and
approaches exemplified by two dedicated social work pioneers, Ruth Knee and
The Outstanding Achievement Award is
presented to an individual who has had a significant impact on national health
or mental health public policy, professional standards or program models.
Dr. Little’s work is deserving of
this award. One of her long-standing goals has been to use electronic health
record technology to identify and treat people who are at risk of suicide in a
community health setting. That is because studies have proven that patients who
die by suicide often see their primary care provider weeks or months before
death. Her recently published work shows patients at risk for suicide are more
likely to be active users of patient portals.
Dr. Little also championed adoption
of the Zero Suicide Initiative. The initiative seeks to promote suicide
prevention as a core component of health care services.
“Dr. Little is a shining example of
how social workers can bring their expertise into the health care sector and
improve systems so that clients can get better mental health care and people
who are contemplating suicide can get the care they need to recover and lead
fulfilling lives,” Arnold said.
Go here for more information on the Knee/Wittman Awards.