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Community News
Awards Honor Media Efforts to Defeat Stigma
Psychiatric News
Volume 41 Number 18 page 15-36
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Actress and author Mariel Hemingway (left) presents Carmen Lee, founder and director of the Stamp Out Stigma program, with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Voice Awards ceremony in Los Angeles in August.  Photo Credit: Larry Merkle

In the media, people with mental illness have often been portrayed as violent or out of control. In order to encourage media representatives to depict people with mental illness accurately to the public, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created the Voice Awards two years ago. One of the sponsors of the award is the American Psychiatric Foundation.

The Voice Awards honor film, TV, and radio writers, producers, and actors who create "dignified, respectful, and accurate portrayals of people with mental health problems," according to a SAMHSA press release. Mental health advocates are also recognized at the Voice Awards, which were presented in Los Angeles in August.

"We are proud to recognize those in the entertainment field who are helping to change misunderstanding and misconceptions about people with mental health problems," said Assistant Surgeon General Eric Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H., SAMHSA's acting deputy administrator, at the awards ceremony." Because the entertainment field has the capacity to influence how the public views important social issues, it is critical that we acknowledge those who portray issues related to mental health and mental illness accurately and encourage them to continue to do so."

Winners in the television category were the crime dramas "Law & Order: SVU" (NBC) for the episode "Ripped," and "Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye" (PAX) for the episode "Mind Games."" Ripped" highlighted the role an engaging therapist can play for a person seeking help for personal problems. One story line in "Mind Games" focused on how a psychiatrist helped educate and change the mistaken assumptions of police investigators about a person with mental health issues.

"Proof" and "Jellysmoke" won in the film category. In "Proof," the daughter of a mathematician affected by mental illness confronts her fears about her risk of developing mental illness." Jellysmoke" explores the adjustment to life outside a psychiatric hospital by a man with bipolar disorder.

Winners in the documentary category included "Legacy of the Harp," the Emmy-nominated "I Have Tourette's, but Tourette's Doesn't Have Me," and "Shadow Voices: Finding Hope in Mental Illness."

In the radio category, winners were "Morning Edition" (National Public Radio) for "Katrina and Recovery" and "One in Five" (Radio New Zealand) for "Crazy for Life."

Also among the award recipients was David Hoberman, who won a Career Achievement Award. Hoberman is the executive producer for the TV series" Monk" (USA).

The series stars Tony Shaloub as Adrian Monk, a former police detective who solves crimes while working to recover from mental health problems such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, multiple phobias, and the sudden death of his wife. Hoberman is also a board member of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America and has produced a number of motion pictures, including "Raising Helen" and "The Shaggy Dog."

Veteran actresses Patty Duke and Ruta Lee received Special Recognition Awards from SAMHSA for their work in mental health advocacy.

Duke won an Oscar award for her role as Helen keller in "The Miracle Worker" and is also a best-selling author. Her books Call Me Anna and A Brilliant Madness: Living With Manic Depressive Illness helped to launch her role as a mental health advocate.

Lee has appeared in a number of films, including "Funny Face" and "Witness for the Prosecution," and has made more than 2,000 TV appearances. In addition, she established the Thalians Mental Health Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

In addition to entertainment professionals, honorees included five mental health advocates, who received Consumer Leadership awards for their efforts to raise awareness of mental health and increase public understanding of mental health issues.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Carmen Lee, a mental health advocate and founder and executive director of Stamp Out Stigma, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of mental illness among the public.

Lee told Psychiatric News that the Voice Awards "are a wonderful tribute to people doing antistigma work."

Entertainment professionals who created original television, film, and radio productions and released them in 2005 were eligible for nomination. A panel of judges, including mental health professionals, mental health advocates, consumers, and representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services and the entertainment field, rated the productions.

More information on the Voice Awards is posted at<www.allmentalhealth.samhsa.gov/voiceawards/about.html>.

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Actress and author Mariel Hemingway (left) presents Carmen Lee, founder and director of the Stamp Out Stigma program, with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Voice Awards ceremony in Los Angeles in August.  Photo Credit: Larry Merkle

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