July 11, 2012 | Featured
Following a career in academic psychiatry serving as Vice-Chair and Clinical Director of Mental Health Services at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine/Medical Center, Dr. Neal Cohen was appointed to the position of Commissioner of the NYC Department of Mental Health in 1996. In 1998 he was appointed to concurrently serve as Commissioner of the NYC Department of Health. During his tenure, Dr. Cohen oversaw the public health responses to several major crises unprecedented in the history of NYC or the nation: the West Nile virus outbreak, a disease that had never previously appeared in the Western hemisphere and the emergence of anthrax due to bioterrorism that posed significant challenges to public health.
As an advocate for incorporating mental health into the mainstream of the public health agenda, Dr. Cohen was a proponent for the merger of both Health and Mental Health departments into a unified public health agency which was approved in a NYC voter referendum in November 2001. Among numerous awards received, Dr. Cohen has been honored by the New York Academy of Medicine (Urban Health Award), the American Psychiatric Association (Bruno Lima Award), and the American Public Health Association (Public Health Hero Award).
Dr. Cohen joined the Hunter College faculty as a Distinguished Lecturer in 2007 with appointments to the Schools of Social Work and Public Health. In January 2011 he assumed the position of Acting Associate Provost for Health and Social Welfare overseeing the Schools of Social Work, Nursing and the new CUNY School of Public Health. In April 2011 his edited book “Population Mental Health: Evidence, Policy and Public Health Practice” was published which recognizes public mental health as a critical public health challenge worldwide. In July 2012 he was appointed as Interim Dean of the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College.
Dr. Cohen earned his BA at Columbia College, his MD from the New York University School of Medicine, residency and post-doctoral research training at NYU-Bellevue Hospitals. He is Board Certified in Psychiatry.