Help for people with mental health problems is a painfully intimate issue for Alicia Nash ’55 and her husband, Nobel laureate John F. Nash. He was an MIT professor when she married him in 1957. The following year, when she was pregnant with their son, John, he began suffering from schizophrenia. The family’s struggle with his decades-long bout with mental illness was the basis for the Oscar-winning film, A Beautiful Mind.
Today, they live near Princeton University where he earned his PhD and served on the faculty. He shared the 1994 Nobel Prize for his work in game theory, which he described to an MIT audience in 2001. She has worked as a programmer and systems analyst for the New Jersey Transit System. Their son, who earned a doctorate in mathematics, is now facing his own struggle with mental illness.
The Nashes are soon to meet with the New Jersey governor and legislative leaders to advocate support of mental health programs, which are in danger of severe state budget cuts, according to the Times of Trenton.
“In the mental health field, John and Alicia are very much heroes because they were really one of the first public figures who would lend their stature and put their name to the cause of breaking down stereotypes and humanizing people with mental illness,” said Debra Wentz, a mental health lobbyist.