In Memorium – Jerry Dincin
A true innovator in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation, Dr. Jerry Dincin, passed away on Tuesday, March 26th, after a long battle with prostate cancer. Dr. Dincin was one of the original thirteen founders of USPRA and served as one of the association's first presidents, from 1980-1982. Dr. Dincin was not just a visionary; he was an iconic figure in our field who never wavered from his devotion to helping people in recovery.
"Jerry's passing leaves a huge void for all in our profession but his impact will continue over generations, even among those who never had the opportunity to meet him," said USPRA Board Chair Lisa Razzano. "Jerry Dincin gave me my first job in psychiatric rehabilitation – when I was a pre-doctoral candidate in psychology – almost 25 years ago. The influence of being a part of Thresholds and the recovery community it represents fundamentally shaped my own career in psychiatric rehabilitation and for that, I will always be grateful to him."
Dr. Dincin's legacy lives on in many of USPRA's programs and services, including the USPRA Dincin Fellows program which was renamed in his honor in 2012.
Dr. Dincin served as the executive director of Thresholds for nearly 40 years. In his tenure at Thresholds, Dr. Dincin amassed a long record of innovation that helped countless people with serious mental illnesses live with dignity and independence. Dr. Dincin was an international figure in mental health who utilized his numerous publications and presentations to greatly advance the state of knowledge about mental health.
Dr. Dincin took the helm at Thresholds in 1965, overseeing a staff of five serving about 50 persons with serious mental illnesses. By the time of his retirement in 2003, he had built the agency into one of the nation’s premiere mental health agencies. Today, more than 6,000 members each year benefit from Thresholds’ comprehensive set of compassionate services, many of which Dr. Dincin and his staff pioneered.
When he first arrived in Chicago, there were no out-patient programs for psychiatric rehabilitation. "In 1965, it was unheard of that psychiatric patients could even work," said Dr. Dincin. "We started a job program and a housing program, and by the time I left in 2002, we had about 1,000 people living in safe, decent, affordable housing."
Dr. Dincin advanced the clubhouse model of psychiatric rehabilitation to include housing, education, vocational services, and home visiting, among other services. Dr. Dincin pioneered specialized services for the deaf, mothers, seniors, persons with substance abuse disorders, adolescents, persons with justice involvement, and many more. He was an early advocate of research programs for mental health, which not only produced ground-breaking studies on best practices in mental health treatments, but also established important processes for program evaluation within mental health fields.
After retiring from Thresholds in 2002, Dr. Dincin also worked as an advocate for the Death with Dignity movement. Dr. Dincin is survived by his wife, Susanne Streicker, a sister, Zola Schneider, of Washington, D.C., four children – Laura Piper, Paul Dincin, Maya Dincin, and Bruce Dincin – and seven grandchildren.*
The USPRA community salutes the lasting legacy of Dr. Dincin while morning the loss of this pioneer of psychiatric rehabilitation and advocate for people with mental illness.
* Visit the Thresholds website to read the full statement about Jerry Dincin’s legacy.