The Voice Awards: Recognizing Mental Health Champions

Despite much progress in recent years, there is still much public misunderstanding and discrimination surrounding mental illness and addiction. Every year the Voice Awardsprogram honors individuals and television and film professionals who are making a difference in public attitudes and understanding about mental illness and recovery.

SAMHSA Voice Awards

This year’s Voice Awards will be held on Aug. 10 at the University of California, Los Angeles’s (UCLA) Royce Hall at 7:30 p.m. PDT. You can watch the live webcast of the event and join the conversation using#VoiceAwards.

The Voice Awards program is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of the Department of Health and Human Services and supported by more than 35 Program Partners, including the American Psychiatric Association Foundation. Among the other program Partners are:

The annual awards recognize consumer/peer leaders (people who have received services for a mental and/or substance use disorder) who have

  • Personally demonstrated that recovery is real and possible
  • Led efforts to reduce the discrimination and misperceptions associated with behavioral health conditions
  • Made a positive impact on communities, workplaces, or schools

These are individuals who are helping others by sharing their stories of resilience and recovery.

The awards program also recognizes television and film writers and producers who incorporate dignified, respectful, and accurate portrayals of individuals with behavioral health conditions into their productions and convey a sense of optimism about the possibility of recovery from behavioral health conditions.

This year’s awards will focus on “Strengthening Families through Hope and Help.” The awards will honor family members who have embraced and promoted family support in prevention, treatment, and recovery. Family members are often instrumental in individuals’ recovery process—identifying problems, stepping in to help, advocating for services, and being a support system.

Among those recognized in the 2015 Voice Awards were actors Wayne Brady and Brittany Snow. Snow, who has appeared in numerous television shows and films including “Hairspray” and “Pitch Perfect,” co-founded the Love is Louder program with The Jed Foundation. Love is Louder supports people feeling mistreated, hopeless or alone. Brady, an Emmy award winning talk show host, Broadway star, and Grammy-nominated recording artist, was involved with the #StrongerThanStigma PSA campaign that encourages men to talk about their mental health.

Previous television and film winners have included the series “Elementary,” “Madam Secretary” and “The Newsroom” and films “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw” (documentary).

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