Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter spent much of her life as a prominent advocate for mental health . On Sunday, November 19, she passed away at her home in Plains, Georgia at the age of 96. We take this opportunity to showcase some of her important work in the field of mental health advocacy. Advocated for mental health reform in Georgia When her husband Jimmy Carter was running for governor of Georgia , Mrs. Carter met a woman who had just clocked out from the night shift. She mentioned that she was on the way home to take care of her daughter who had mentally health concerns. Mrs. Carter campaigned the rest of the day and then stood in line at one of her husband’s rallies. When Mr. Carter asked her what she was doing on the rope line at his rally, she said, “I came to see what you are going to do to help people with mental illnesses when you become governor.” He replied that Georgia was going to have the best program in the country and he would put her in charge of it. Mrs. Carter served as a member of the Governor’s Commission to Improve Services to the Mentally and Emotionally Handicapped during her husband’s governorship. Served as an advocate for mental health as First Lady Once Mr. Carter was in the White House, Mrs. Carter served as the honorary Chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health and testified before the Senate on behalf of the Mental Health Systems Act, which led to the passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. The Mental Health Systems Act provided grants to community mental health centers. It was considered landmark legislation and has created a framework for much of the mental health legislation since that time. While in the White House, the Carters helped establish 123 community mental health centers . Focused on improving mental health and health care After leaving Washington, DC, Mrs. Carter continued to advocate for mental health. The Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy has focused on improving mental health care by engaging thought leaders on topics such as how to promote access to appropriate and affordable behavioral healthcare services, issues related to improving the quality of mental health services, and concerns about reducing the stigma related to mental health and substance abuse. In addition, she was pivotal in the Carter Center Mental Health Task Force , the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism , and the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (RCI) . Through these initiatives, Mrs. Carter was able to address the concerns of caregivers, promote mental health awareness, and advance public and social policies by shining a light on mental health issues. Mrs. Carter cowrote several books on mental health and caregiving topics and received many honors for her work, including the 2018 Bill Foege Global Health Award, Volunteer of the Decade Award from the National Mental Health Association, the Dorothea Dix Award from the Mental Illness Foundation, the Nathan S. Kline Medal of Merit from the International Committee Against Mental Illness, the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the Institute of Medicine, the United States Surgeon General's Medallion, induction in the National Women's Hall of Fame, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor. She was an Honorary Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Mrs. Carter once reflected why it was important to make mental health her priority : “I wanted to take mental illnesses and emotional disorders out of the closet, to let people know it is all right to admit having a problem without fear of being called crazy. If only we could consider mental illnesses as straightforwardly as we do physical illnesses, those affected could seek help and be treated in an open and effective way.” Rosalynn Carter was a tireless advocate for mental health causes. The Carter Center plans to continue this important work.