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Mental Health America (MHA) will honor an impressive group of individuals, communications professionals and innovative programs at its 2017 Annual Conference, being held in Washington, DC on June 14-16. Throughout the three days MHA will present the 2017 Legislator Award, the Clifford W. Beers Award, the Innovation in Programming Award, the Media Award, the youth-focused mPower Award, and the George Goodman and Ruth P. Brudney Social Work Award.

MHA’s 2017 Legislator Award goes to U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, Congressman Tim Murphy, and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson for their tireless efforts over the last two years to pass mental health reform. Last December, despite a polarizing Congress, they successful led a bipartisan passage of the most comprehensive mental health systems reform legislation in more than fifty years.

"As a result of this legislation, we are laying a new foundation for comprehensive mental health services and supports beginning when most mental illnesses begin – during childhood – and continuing through the life span,” said Paul Gionfriddo, MHA president and CEO. “This victory could not have been possible without Senators Cassidy and Murphy and Representatives Murphy and Bernice Johnson.”

MHA’s Clifford W. Beers Award will be presented to mental health advocate Brandon Staglin. The Clifford W. Beers Award is presented annually to mental health consumers who best reflect the example set by MHA founder Clifford W. Beers in his or her efforts to improve conditions for and attitudes toward people living with mental health conditions. Brandon is the Director of Marketing and Communications for Staglin Family Vineyard and One Mind Institute, and Board Director for One Mind and One Mind Institute. Brandon’s recovery from schizophrenia makes him happy every day he can contribute to the health of others.

MHA’s Innovation in Programming Award, which recognizes the continuing innovation and creativity of the MHA affiliate network in program development and implementation, goes to MHA of New York City. MHA-NYC is the first organization in the country to offer evidence-based online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with live telephone, text and chat supports. With this innovative program, MHA-NYC not only tackled the problems of delays in access to care but also the shortage of clinicians trained to deliver CBT for a range of common behavioral health conditions.

MHA’s 2017 Media Award will be presented on June 15 during the Media Awards Luncheon, with emcee NBC-4 Washington anchor Doreen Gentzler. This year’s recipients include:

  • Netflix and its remake of One Day at a Time, for shining an important light on depression and post-traumatic stress;
  • Documentary filmmaker Ben Selkow for BURIED ABOVE GROUND, a film that explores the harrowing stories of three Americans living with these burdens of PTSD;
  • Journalist Jaclyn Cosgrove from The Oklahoman, for her year-long series Epidemic Ignored;
  • Illustrator Gemma Correll for her impactful depictions of life with mental illness; and
  • David Solomon, Executive Producer at Pittsburgh PBS affiliate WQED, for his years of work developing compelling documentaries, including most recently Before Stage 4: Confronting Early Psychosis.

MHA’s mPower Award goes to 17-year-old Nadia Ghaffari. A junior at Los Altos High School, Nadia is also the founder of the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and the author of the children's book Growing a Brain. Nadia was inspired to start a peer movement to build a community of compassionate teens and mental health activists who are educated on how to be well and prioritize wellness, after her own experience with aiding in the prevention of a close friend's suicide. acts as a global peer-to-peer forum where teens can interact with each other through videos, learn from each other’s experiences, access a huge variety of professional resources, and inspire each other to stay hopeful and resilient.

MHA’s George Goodman and Ruth P. Brudney Social Work Award this year goes to Kate Mahoney, a licensed clinical social worker, currently serves as Executive Director of the Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute for Mental Health Education at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Kate’s role involves delivering educational and skill-building sessions to youth and adults to promote mental wellness, providing support to individuals and families directly impacted by mental illness, and advocating to reduce stigma and discrimination against individuals grappling with mental health challenges.

“We look forward to gathering in Washington, DC this June and celebrating these amazing award winners,” concluded Gionfriddo. “These noteworthy awardees join an already impressive line-up of speakers and participants at this year’s conference. With an unprecedented gathering of advocates, musicians, clinicians, and policy makers in the heart of the nation’s capital, this conference is one not to be missed.”