Popular TV series such as "Army Wives" and "Grey's Anatomy" earned plaudits for raising awareness about mental health problems, including substance abuse, in responsible and accurate portrayals, at the fifth annual Voice Awards ceremony held at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles in October.
This year's event marked the fifth anniversary of the awards, whose sponsor is the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This year, as in past years, the American Psychiatric Foundation (APF) served as a program partner for the awards, and APF staff served on the panel of judges.
"The Voice Awards have grown in range and impact over the past five years and will continue to grow in the future," APF Executive Director Paul Burke told Psychiatric News. "We are proud to be a program partner."
Burke attended the ceremony, as did Jeffery Borenstein, M.D., chair of APA's Council on Communications and host of the PBS television series "Healthy Minds." Borenstein presented a vignette from the series and also one of the Consumer Leadership Awards.
"Healthy Minds" first aired in 2006 on a public television station in New York; it is produced by WLIW-21 in association with WNET.org. With funding from APF, the series premiered nationally in October 2009 (Psychiatric News, May 15, 2009). Each half-hour episode focuses on a different psychiatric disorder and features interviews with people who are in recovery from mental illness, Borenstein explained.
In an interview with Psychiatric News, Borenstein characterized the Voice Awards as "essential to the campaign to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness" and said he hopes that the awards will continue to encourage people in the entertainment industry to present storylines in a way that educate the public."
Emmy Award—winning actor Hector Elizondo and Academy Award—winning actor Lou Gossett Jr. co-hosted the ceremony, in which special recognition was given to shows that dealt with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among returning U.S. veterans and its impact on military families.
The 2010 Voice Award Winners are as follows:
A number of individuals were also honored for their work in raising awareness of mental health issues.
First Lady Rosalynn Carter was honored with the SAMHSA Special Career Recognition Award for her work in advancing mental health awareness for 40 years.
Mental health advocate and Vietnam veteran Moe Armstrong received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the mental health recovery movement and for establishing Vet-to-Vet, a peer recovery program for veterans struggling with mental health problems.
Five consumer advocates and leaders also received Consumer Leadership Awards: Gayle Blueburd of Gainesville, Fla; Fredrick Frese, Ph.D., of Akron, Ohio; Clarence Jordan of Nashville, Tenn.; LaVerne Miller of Delmar, N.Y.; and Janet Paleo of San Antonio, Tex.
Lorrin Gehring of Provo, Utah, received the Young Adult Leadership Award.
More information about the Voice Awards is posted at <www.transitionyear.org>. Episodes of "Healthy Minds" can be accessed at <www.wliw.org/healthyminds>.