Each year, at the Mental Health America Conference, we recognize outstanding work in the field by its affiliates, young people, the media, and adult mental health consumers through eight national awards.
Clifford W. Beers Award
Mental Health America’s highest award is given in honor of Clifford W. Beers, the founder of Mental Health America and the country’s volunteer mental health advocacy movement. Created in 1976, the Clifford W. Beers Award has been presented annually to a consumer of mental health and/or substance abuse services who best reflects the example set by Beers in his efforts to improve conditions for and attitudes toward people with mental illnesses.
To be eligible for the Clifford W. Beers Award, the nominee must be or have been a consumer of mental health and/or substance use disorder services. Nominees must achieve the following criteria:
- Impact: The individual has made or is making significant contributions to improving the lives of people with mental illnesses, substance use, or co-occurring disorders.
- Leadership: The individual has demonstrated the ability to inspire and effectively educate the public about mental health, mental illnesses, substance use, or co-occurring disorders.
- Visibility: The individual is a visible and recognizable leader at the community, state, and/or national level, in their specialized field, or with a specialized population.
- Bravery: The individual illustrates their commitment to consumer advocacy despite potential risks to career, finances, and public acceptance.
Betty Humphrey Equity Champion Award
MHA’s Betty Humphrey Equity Champion Award was created in honor of Dr. Betty Humphrey, a tireless advocate for culturally competent mental health care. The award is given to an individual or organization for demonstrating an ongoing commitment to the fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion. It recognizes those who advance the intersectionality of mental health as it relates to discrimination, poverty, stigma, racism, and overall social and economic determinants of health.
Any organization or company providing, receiving, or consulting on diversity, equity or inclusion are not eligible. The award's purpose is to honor and recognize organizations in the behavioral health or mental health field who are making outstanding commitments to an anti-racist agenda and promoting health equity.
The nominee must achieve the following criteria:
- Commitment: The company demonstrates its commitment to addressing disparities in mental health and substance abuse services by offering programs, accommodations, and trainings.
- Community: The company demonstrates its commitment to its community through diverse partnerships and collaborations (including customers, contractors, investors, and the general public) and contributions, education, job training, housing programs, public awareness campaigns, or other related activities.
- Internal practice change: The company creates and implements policies and practices that advance an anti-racist agenda and serve to protect BIPOC.
- Communication: The company has developed and distributed communication materials and strategies to reach underserved populations.
George Goodman Brudney and Ruth P. Brudney Social Work Award
The George Goodman and Ruth P. Brudney Social Work Award was established to recognize significant contributions made to the care and treatment of people with mental illness by practicing professionals in social work. The award's establishment was made possible through a gift by George Brudney, an MHA Board of Directors member, in memory of his wife Ruth, a psychiatric social worker.
To be eligible for the Brudney Social Work Award, the nominee must hold a master's degree (or higher) in social work from an accredited college or university, maintain a professional position in a public or private organization or agency, and be primarily engaged in the provision of social work services to clients or patients who have a mental illness, the direct supervision or management of such services, or the development or implementation of innovative programs serving people with mental illnesses.
Award nominees must achieve the following criteria:
- Commitment: The individual has demonstrated passion and dedication to the profession of social work and improving the care and treatment of people who have mental illnesses.
- Leadership: The individual serves as an inspiration for their clients or patients, colleagues, and those pursuing the field of social work.
Richard Van Horn Innovation in Programming Award
The Innovation in Programming Award is designated explicitly for Mental Health America affiliate programs. Eligible affiliates must be in good standing with Mental Health America, and a qualified MHA affiliate’s program must reflect the vision, mission, and values of MHA; show measurable outcomes; represent state-of-the-art thinking and research in the mental health field; incorporate consumer or family involvement and empowerment as a central component; and be replicable in other settings or agencies.
The nominee must achieve the following criteria:
- Mission-centered: The affiliate reflects the vision, mission, and values of Mental Health America.
- Impact: The affiliate's programming shows measurable outcomes and has demonstrated value within the communities it serves.
- Innovation: The affiliate represents state-of-the-art thinking and research in the mental health field.
- Consumer-focused: The affiliate incorporates consumer or family involvement and empowerment as a central component of its programming.
- Application: The affiliate's program is replicable in other settings or agencies.
Joseph de Raismes, III Policy Award
MHA’s Joseph de Raismes III Policy Award is an award created to honor the service and legacy of Joseph de Raismes III, who worked on the MHA Board of Directors, advised MHA general counsel, and provided leadership on the MHA Public Policy Committee. The award honors an individual who – like de Raismes – makes outstanding contributions to furthering mental health policy. Please note this award does not accept public nominations.
The mPower Award celebrates the life and work of a teen or young adult who has spoken out about mental health issues to educate peers and fight stigma. To be eligible, nominees must be between the ages of 13-23 and have personal experience in dealing with a disorder that has affected them, a friend, or a family member; and have addressed mental health issues in their communities, such as forming a peer support group or club; advocating for mental health policy or system change; speaking to classmates or a youth group; writing a song, article or essay; or talking with the media.
Nominees must have achieved the following criteria:
- Innovation: The individual has created an original program or work of art or initiated a policy change addressing mental health issues in their communities.
- Leadership: The individual has inspired and led peers in addressing mental health issues in their community or has been recognized at the local, state, or national level for their achievements.
- Recovery-orientation: The individual has incorporated their personal recovery or the experience of a loved one in recovery into their efforts.
- Likeliness to be lifelong leaders: The individual has demonstrated the potential to pursue their work into adulthood.
Each year, MHA recognizes journalists, media outlets, authors, and television and film programs that excel in their coverage and portrayal of mental health issues in news and entertainment media. The media is vital in educating Americans about mental health and mental illnesses. Accurate and responsible coverage is critical in breaking down stereotypes and stigma surrounding mental illness and substance use. Original, thought-provoking journalism and entertainment not only work to raise general awareness and shape public opinion but help all people live mentally healthier lives and teach the country to address mental illness.
Awards are considered in the following categories:
- Print (newspapers, national or local magazines, columns, books)
- Broadcast (national or local television, national or local radio)
- Documentary film
- Nationally-released film
- Television show or episode
- Online platform or individual (blogger, gamer, graphic artist, social media account, online platform)
Nomination submissions must reflect the following:
- Shows precise, factual data about mental illness and substance use disorders;
- Illustrates a creative and innovative approach to the topic and/or story;
- Provides fresh, non-conventional, in-depth, or unique perspective;
- Shows those with lived experience in real, multi-dimensional ways; and
- Works to reduce or address the stigma around mental illness and substance use
Youth Policy Advocacy Award
The Youth Policy Advocacy Award celebrates the work of a teenager or young adult who has spoken out about systemic mental health issues in school, community, and healthcare settings to educate policymakers about urgent changes to local, state, or federal laws or other policies that would better support the mental health of youth. To be eligible, nominees must be between the ages of 13-25 years and have personal experience in dealing with a mental health condition that has affected them, a friend, or a family member; and have led or co-led mental health policy initiatives, such as advocating for excused mental health absences or obtaining additional funding for school-based mental health resources.
Nominees must have achieved the following criteria:
- Leadership: The individual has inspired and led peers in addressing mental health policy issues in their community or has been recognized at the local, state, or national level for their achievements.
- Recovery orientation: The individual has incorporated their personal recovery or the experience of a loved one in recovery into their efforts.
- Likelihood to be a lifelong leader: The individual has demonstrated the potential to pursue their work into adulthood or as part of a career.