Alexandria, VA – Mental Health America (MHA) is announcing today the 2021 recipients of the Clifford W. Beers Award, the Betty Humphrey Equity Champion Award, the Innovation in Programming Award, the Media Award, the youth-focused mPower Award, the George Goodman Brudney and Ruth P. Brudney Social Work Award, and the Joseph de Raismes III Policy Award.
MHA’s 2021 Clifford W. Beers Award will be presented to mental health advocate and executive Keris Myrick. The Clifford W. Beers Award is MHA’s highest honor and is presented annually to an individual with lived experience who best reflects the example set by MHA founder Clifford W. Beers in efforts to improve conditions for, and attitudes toward, people living with mental health conditions.
Keris Myrick is a leading mental health advocate and a national leader in the peer support movement. She is currently a co-Director of S2i, the Mental Health Strategic Impact Initiative. S2i is an organization that seeks to advance transformation in mental health for all through policy reform. Prior to her role at S2i, she was Chief of Peer and Allied Health Professions for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and served as the Director of the Office of Consumer Affairs for the Center for Mental Health Services at SAMHSA. She is also a past Board President of NAMI, and the former CEO of Project Return Peer Support Network, a Los Angeles-based peer-run nonprofit. In 2006, after working in higher education for much of her life, she changed her career path. Her lived experience with schizoaffective disorder led her to begin attending publicly available mental health conferences. And through people she met at these gatherings, she took her first job in the mental health nonprofit field. Her accomplishments since then amount to 15 years of experience in mental health services innovations, transformation, and peer workforce development.
MHA’s 2021 Betty Humphrey Equity Champion Award goes to Mental Health America of the MidSouth. The 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.
Mental Health America of the MidSouth established a Multicultural Outreach Program (MOP) over 20 years ago. The program started by providing mental health education and programs in Spanish. For several years it expanded programming to offer mental health supports in Somali, Kurdish, and other languages. Going even further, MHA of the MidSouth also developed two new curriculums: one to train interpreters in mental health and another to teach providers to work with interpreters in order to provide appropriate mental health services. Today, it is one of the only programs in the southern part of the U.S. that provides regular mental health programs for non-English speakers. And recently, three new programs were added -- one that helps foreign-born nationals recover from human trafficking, one that assists in case management for unaccompanied minors, and one that hosts a monthly gathering of Nashville leaders in order to promote culturally responsive mental health services throughout Middle Tennessee.
MHA’s Innovation in Programming Award, which recognizes the continuing innovation and creativity of an MHA affiliate in program development and implementation, goes to Mental Health Connecticut (MHC). MHC is part of a statewide network to help eliminate homelessness in Connecticut and participates in the Waterbury/Litchfield Coordinated Access Network (CAN) that serves those who meet the HUD definition of literal homelessness. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, MHC and the Connecticut Department of Housing recognized an urgent community need to connect people experiencing homelessness to housing services. MHC worked with the Department of Housing and others to create a “call tree” that routed incoming calls directly to a live staff member within the Waterbury/Litchfield Coordinated Access Network. This innovation made the Waterbury/Litchfield Coordinated Access Network the only community program in the state of Connecticut with same-day call-back services in order to address an individual’s housing crisis immediately. Mental Health Connecticut is currently working to assist sister agencies across the state in replicating the program.
MHA’s 2021 Media Award recognizes television shows, journalists, and filmmakers that tackle the issues of mental illness and addiction – and in doing so, educate, inform, and break down stigma around these issues. This year’s recipients include three outstanding examples across multiple platforms:
- Netflix’s popular mother/daughter coming-of-age series, Ginny & Georgia, for responsibly approaching the issue of self-harm and portraying excellent peer-to-peer conversations about mental health. Showrunner and Executive Producer Debra J. Fisher and Creator and Executive Producer Sarah Lampert will accept on behalf of the show.
- WLNS-TV (Lansing), led by anchor Sheri Jones, for three in-depth features, four to five times longer than the typical television news segment, highlighting the lived experiences of notable Michiganders and evoking great emotion in the process.
- Mohamed Abdi, community leader and filmmaker, for his documentary, “Surviving The Movement,” a story of how global, national, and local events are connected to our personal mental health.
MHA’s 2021 mPower Award goes to Seika Brown. The mPower Award celebrates the life and work of a teen or young adult who speaks out about mental health issues to educate his or her peers and fight stigma.
Seika Brown is a young adult advocate who has championed mental health and well-being in her community for the past five years. Seika is the founder and CEO of ArchNova, a youth-led organization focused on mental health advocacy and empowering fellow youth to engage in promoting well-being in their communities. She created the ArchNova Youth Activism Toolkit, an adaptable resource that can be utilized by youth looking to make changes in their schools, communities, and relationships. As part of ArchNova’s youth leadership team, she successfully advocated for the passing of Washington state legislation that provides funding for regional and state school safety centers and the creation of a student safety and well-being workgroup. She is also in the process of writing her first book and designing a participatory research experience to bring more youth voices into mental health.
MHA’s George Goodman Brudney and Ruth P. Brudney Social Work Award recognizes significant contributions made to the care and treatment of people living with mental illnesses by practicing professionals in the field of social work. The 2021 award goes to Elliot Pinsly. Elliot is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and President & CEO of the Behavioral Health Foundation, an independent, data-driven, nonprofit policy center in Tennessee. Elliot is a passionate leader in mental health policy and strategic advocacy who has helped to develop innovative and effective behavioral health programs serving countless Tennesseans. Elliot has been instrumental in the expansion of crisis walk-in centers, pre-arrest diversion and deflection programming, emergency mental health transportation reform, insurance parity enforcement, and mental health awareness. Elliot works hand-in-hand with fellow social workers, behavioral health providers, judges, advocacy organizations, law enforcement, hospitals, legislators, government officials, and concerned citizens to create meaningful changes to systems and policies that improve the lives of individuals with lived mental health experience.
MHA’s Joseph de Raismes, III Policy Award is a newly established award, created to honor the service and legacy of Joseph de Raismes, III who worked on the MHA Board of Directors, gave advice as MHA General Counsel, and provided leadership on the MHA Public Policy Committee. Each year going forward, the Joseph de Raismes, III Policy Award will honor an individual who – like Joe – makes outstanding contributions to furthering mental health policy. The inaugural recipient will be Mark Heyrman. Mark is MHA’s current General Counsel and a national policy expert whose expertise is greatly in demand, especially with respect to mental health law. He has authored ten scholarly publications and has worked on over 40 pieces of legislation related to mental health. He was previously a clinical Professor of Law where his work was dedicated to representing people living with mental illnesses in state and federal courts, drafting and working to enact mental health legislation, and teaching law students mental health law and mental health advocacy.
All awards will be distributed during MHA’s Annual Conference, titled “Resiliency to Recovery,” taking place June 10-12 in Washington, DC.
About Mental Health America
Mental Health America (MHA) is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all. MHA’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal. Learn more at MHAnational.org.