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Mental Health America (MHA) will honor an impressive group of individuals, communications professionals and innovative programs at its 2018 Annual Conference, being held in Washington, DC on June 14-16. Throughout the three days MHA will present several awards and are happy to announce today the recipients of 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 Clifford W. Beers Award will be presented to mental health advocate Jennifer Marshall. The Clifford W. Beers Award is presented annually to an individual with the lived experience of mental illness who best reflects 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. Jennifer is the co-founder and Executive Director of This Is My Brave. Jenn, who lives with bipolar disorder, created the organization after learning first-hand how powerful and therapeutic it was to live openly and not hide her diagnosis. She wanted to give individuals from the community a platform through which to creatively share their stories of living with mental illness to educate and inspire others.

MHA’s Media Award will be presented on June 15 during the Media Awards Luncheon. MHA’s Media Award recognizes journalists, authors, digital platforms, media outlets, television shows and filmmakers that have not shied away from the issues of mental illness and addiction – and in doing so, have educated, informed, and helped break down stigma and shame around these issues. This year’s recipients include six outstanding and diverse examples across multiple platforms:

  • The Da Capo Press and New York Times best-selling book, Playing Hurt: My Journey from Despair to Hope, authored by the late John Saunders with John U. Bacon. In Saunders own words before his passing: “Playing Hurt is not an autobiography of a sports celebrity but a memoir of a man facing his own mental illness, and emerging better off for the effort. I will take you into the heart of my struggle with depression, including insights into some of its causes, its consequences, and its treatments.”
  • Netflix Original Series, 13 Reasons Why, for elevating the dialogue across the county between parents, students, and mental health advocates on the epidemic of teen suicide, depression, and bullying.
  • The documentary Suicide: The Ripple Effect, by filmmakers Kevin Hines and Greg Dicharry. The film highlights the journey of Kevin Hines, who at age 19, attempted to take his life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. Today Kevin is a world-renowned mental health advocate, motivational speaker and author who travels the globe spreading a message of hope, recovery and wellness.
  • The online platform The Players’ Tribune a new media company that provides athletes with a platform to connect directly with their fans, in their own words. This past year, TPT focused a great deal on mental health issues, highlighting raw and personal stories from the NBA’s Kevin Love, Channing Frye and Keyon Dooling, NHL’s Ben Scrivens, Corey Hirsch, Clint Malarchuk, and more.
  • Kentucky Education Television (KET) for “Inside Opioid Addiction,” an ongoing, multi-faceted program to bust stigma, strengthen understanding, and facilitate a recovery-focused revolution in opioid addiction.
  • The public-private collaboration of the Las Cruces Sun-News, and KRWG TV-Radio for its a multi-media project called “Distressed: A Look at Behavioral Health in Southern New Mexico.”

MHA’s George Goodman and Ruth P. Brudney Social Work Award this year goes to Marie Williams, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS). Commissioner Marie Williams started her social work career with Catholic Charities, HUD, teaching at the University of Tennessee, and working at a Memphis-based community mental health center.  From 2000-2004, she served as the Director of Housing Planning & Development for TDMHSAS before becoming TDMHSAS’ Assistant Commissioner for Mental Health Services from 2004-2011.  She was promoted to Deputy Commissioner in 2011, and in 2016 she began leading TDMHSAS as Commissioner.  She recently began chairing the Governor’s Opioid Workgroup and co-chairing the Statewide Public-Private Emergency Department Boarding Workgroup.  She is a current Member of the National Association of Mental Health Program Directors and a Member of the University of Tennessee Social Work Advisory Council.

MHA’s 2018 mPower Award goes to Hannah and Charlie Lucas from Cumming, Georgia for the creation of the notOK App™. Hannah, 16, struggled with depression and self-harm last year, her freshman year of high school, after being diagnosed with a chronic illness that led her to be bullied and taunted at school. An idea formed in her head during her lowest moment: an app that would let people know she was not OK. With the assistance of her younger brother, Charlie, 13, the Lucas children got to work on the app idea which would become the notOK App™. The notOK App™ is a digital panic button that stores up to five trusted contacts that can be reached via text message that says: “Hey, I’m not OK. Please call, text, or come check up on me” along with the user’s GPS location. With the recent launch of the notOK App™, Hannah and Charlie have been able to empower people struggling with mental illness to get the help they need from their friends and family.

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 two MHA affiliates this year:

  • MHA of Franklin County (MHAFC) for its Occumetrics program, a uniquely innovative, data-driven process to scientifically measure the workplace wellbeing of an organization in any industry. Occumetrics can predict causative factors for turnover, job satisfaction, and any other measurable workplace issue and then make practical recommendations for organizational change that will move the needle.
  • MHA of Middle Tennessee (MHAMT) for the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN), a private-public partnership that addresses the 10th leading cause of death in the US (2nd leading cause of death among teens ages 10-24). TSPN is a national model for suicide prevention networks, as they cover all 95 counties. The 27-member, governor-appointed advisory council represents eight regions across Tennessee.

MHA will announce separately in the coming weeks the recipient of its first-ever 2018 Corporate Excellence in Mental Health, which will also be awarded at the conference.

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