A Tribute to Carl H. Lindner, Jr., a True Friend of Mental Health

Man poses for photo.

Above, from left: The Lindner Center of HOPE, Carl H. Lindner, Jr., with Paul Keck, MD. Photos courtesy of Lindner Center of HOPE

The University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute mourns the passing of Carl H. Lindner, Jr., a devoted family man and business titan whose philanthropy touched almost every corner of our region. Mr. Lindner, a self-made billionaire who rose from humble beginnings, served as Chairman of American Financial Group, Inc., at the time of his death on Oct. 17.

“Mr. Lindner was a man of humble beginnings, yet he could walk with kings,” said John M. Tew, Jr., MD, Clinical Director of the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute and a neurosurgeon with the Mayfield Clinic. “He was humble and never lost his common touch. He loved his family and this community and never missed an opportunity to nurture both. He did not distinguish between the two with his generosity and resources.”

The UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute and its affiliates are especially grateful to Mr. Lindner and his family for the establishment and continuing support of the Lindner Center of HOPE, a comprehensive mental health center in Mason, Ohio. The center was launched in 2008 with a $40 million gift from Carl and Edyth Lindner, Frances and Craig Lindner, and other members of the Lindner family.

The Lindner Center of HOPE, situated on 36 acres, treats patients with depression and bipolar disorders, eating disorders, addictive and co-occurring psychiatric disorders, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders, schizophrenia, ADHD and post traumatic stress disorder. Its varied treatment approaches include Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), an evidence-based therapy that balances problem-solving and behavioral change with validation, mindfulness and acceptance of one’s human limitations.

“Mr. Lindner recognized the tremendous unmet needs of people suffering with mental illness and understood that one in four Americans suffer from these biologically based brain disorders,” said Paul E. Keck, Jr., MD, President and CEO of the Lindner Center of HOPE, in a prepared statement. “Courageously, Mr. Lindner and his family became champions for mental health in this community, despite the stigma and unpopularity surrounding mental illness. Without their generosity, Lindner Center of HOPE would not be here to serve more than 30,000 patients a year.

“At Lindner Center of HOPE, we believe the Lindner name on our facility has helped to bring mental health care into the spotlight, helping to increase understanding and awareness and lessen stigma,” Dr. Keck continued. “We will be forever grateful to have had the honor of knowing Mr. Lindner, and we greatly appreciate his and his family’s foresight and generosity in establishing the Lindner Center of HOPE. Together, they have made an enormous impact on the lives of people touched by mental illness in our community, in the region and nationwide.”

At the heart of Lindner Center of HOPE is Sibcy House, a voluntary, residential program that emphasizes family engagement, individualized treatment, and communication with the referring clinician. The program includes 10 days of diagnostics, which include a consultation with a neurologist, a comprehensive lab workup, a nutrition consultation and a family interview. Brain imaging can be performed, if needed.

Stephen Strakowski, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Research at UC, Director of UCNI’s Mood Disorders Center, and the Dr. Stanley & Mickey Kaplan Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, also praised Mr. Lindner and his family for helping to reduce the stigma of mental illness and mood disorders, which affect an estimated 21 million Americans.

“Mental illness is highly stigmatized and consequently often ignored by society,” Dr. Strakowski said. “The Lindner family’s generosity in establishing and maintaining the Lindner Center of HOPE directly helps defeat this stigma, raising the importance of mental health care to our community’s awareness. In building the Lindner Center of HOPE in collaboration with UC Health Psychiatry, the Lindner family has helped to create a premier mental health system in Cincinnati. A society’s level of civility is most clearly judged by how it treats its most disenfranchised members; Mr. Lindner and his family raised our community’s level of civility.”

The invitation to the 2011 Queen City Ball was dazzling. And it contained a bombshell of a phrase: Benefiting the Barrett Cancer Center and The Lindner Center of HOPE. There, brought together for what was possibly the very first time – were two diseases normally positioned at opposite ends of the spectrum of acceptability. There was Cancer, which celebrates its patients as “survivors,” joining hands with Mental Health, whose patients often suffer in anonymity, silence and shame.

“Carl Lindner was a pillar of our community, a great man whose vision and generosity advanced Cincinnati and improved the lives of so many of its people,” said Henry A. Nasrallah, MD, Vice Chair for Education and Professor of Psychiatry & Neuroscience. “As a physician/psychiatrist, I am eternally grateful for Carl Lindner’s solid and unwavering verbal and financial support of those suffering from mental illness and those who treat them and conduct research to discover cures for psychiatric ailments. Men like Carl Lindner are rare, and our community is eternally grateful and honored to have been touched by him. His monumental legacy will last long after he is gone.”

Never look to your past work, but always look to your future work. Because the number of people you have helped in the past is limited, while the number of people you can help in the future is infinite. – A sign on Carl Lindner’s office wall.

“We have all lost a beloved friend of UCNI who never said no when asked to support a worthy cause, from the Lindner Center of HOPE to an unknown patient in need,” Dr. Tew reflected. “Thank you, Mr. Lindner: you have set an example that will give infinitely.”

— Cindy Starr

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