Peggy Symons lives every single day advocating for more and better access to medications, not only for herself but for everyone living with this condition and their families.

Peggy Symons Her story started more than 40 years ago, when she was first diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and a mood disorder. She battled the process of finding the right medication to treat her symptoms, trying more than 30 treatments before finding the two that worked for her.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. It is a complex, long-term medical illness, affecting about 1 percent of Americans. While it is possible to live functionally with schizophrenia, diagnosis can be difficult because it shares symptoms with other conditions.

Since finding a treatment, Peggy has been an advocate for patients in Florida, testifying on behalf of legislation to streamline greater access to care. She is a powerhouse of encouragement and advocacy, writing articles and guest columns in outlets such as the USA Today, Newsweek and every major daily publication in Florida. She has also gone before legislative committees and state advisory boards to advocate for improvements in mental health care and greater access for patients.

“Ensuring people with serious mental illnesses receive expert care and modern medications opens the doors into the hope of living productive and meaningful lives,” Peggy writes in the USA Today. “The future of mental illnesses in Florida is in our hands and in the unity of a shared vision. We are all in this together.”

For her inspiring work advocating for patients seeking treatment, Peggy was awarded the Research and Hope Award, which helps illustrate how biopharmaceutical researchers and others in the innovation ecosystem work together to not only bring new medical advances to patients, but thwart deadly diseases through increased awareness, public health efforts and increased collaboration.

For additional information about the revolutionary work being done in the field of mental health, please visit our recent Medicines in Development: Mental Health Report.