PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Shortly after Joseph Rogers was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1969, he took a battery of tests to see if he was eligible for vocational rehabilitation.

Counselors suggested a different tack, saying the 18-year-old should just collect Social Security benefits.

``I cried right there,'' Rogers said. ``They basically suggested that I should retire.''

Years of homelessness and stays in psychiatric hospitals followed, but Rogers used those experiences to lead a large mental health association and champion a new way of helping people with mental illness.

On Monday, Rogers is being given a Heinz Award, an annual $250,000 prize given to people making notable contributions in five areas: the arts and humanities, the environment, the human condition, public policy, and technology, the economy and employment.

The Heinz Family Foundation of Pittsburgh has presented the award since 1994 in honor of Sen. John Heinz III, heir to the Heinz food fortune who died in a 1991 plane crash. His widow, Teresa Heinz, now the wife of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is chairwoman of the foundation.

Rogers should be considered ``the Martin Luther King of mental health's consumer movement,'' said Mary Hurtig, the policy director at the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Rogers joined MHASP in 1984 and rose through the organization to become its president and chief executive officer, promoting the idea that people with mental illness should play an active role in their treatment.

He created the Self-Help and Advocacy Resource Exchange project, an umbrella organization for support groups, drop-in centers, homeless outreach and other programs.

Rogers also established the National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse, which helps organizations around the country start their own support groups.

Another Heinz winner, Mildred Dresselhaus, also used her experiences to become an advocate. The physics and electrical engineer professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has promoted the advancement of women in the sciences for more than 40 years.

Dresselhaus, whose research has focused on carbon science, once served as the director of the U.S. Department of Energy's office of science. She also received the National Medal of Science.

But when she first started college Dresselhaus wasn't sure she'd find a job in the sciences because of her gender. Later, without many role models, she had to learn to juggle her career and her family, which included four children.

Dresselhaus in 1970 co-founded MIT's Women's Forum, which aimed to give female students more opportunities. She also used a Carnegie Foundation grant to encourage women to study in traditionally male-dominated fields.

Other recipients of this year's Heinz Awards include:

_Mark di Suvero, a sculptor and the founder of the Socrates Sculpture Park in New York City.

_Sidney Drell, a professor emeritus at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

_Jerry Franklin, a professor of ecosystem analysis at the University of Washington in Seattle and the director of the Wind River Canopy Crane Research Facility.

_Richard Goldman, president of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Foundation, received the Heinz Awards' Chairman's Medal. He and his late wife established the Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots environmentalists.

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