Eleanor Owen

Nationally Known Mental Health Advocate

Eleanor Owen is an American journalist, playwright, university professor, costume designer, theatre actress, and mental health professional. She has received statewide and national honors and awards for her advocacy work on behalf of families and individuals with mental illness. Serving as an advocate in Olympia, Washington, Owen has participated in the introduction and successful passage of health and human services legislation.

In 1978, she founded the Washington Advocates for the Mentally Ill and the following year in Wisconsin, she co-founded the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), the largest public initiative in the US that works to support families and individuals facing mental health difficulties. The organization encompasses over 1,200 affiliates at the regional, state, and federal level in every geographical region throughout the US. Offices can also be found in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Canada.

In 1999, King County Executive and Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ron Sims, honored her with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the King County Mental Health Exemplary Service Awards. In 2000, she received the Jefferson Award from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for her advocacy work on behalf of individuals and families affected by mental illness.