2013 Voice Awards Honor Unsung Heroes

Author: Kathleen Vogtle - 9/26/2013

The Rev. James Keller wrote, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”

Such is the spirit and purpose behind the Voice Awards, sponsored by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Now in its eighth year, the Voice Awards honor consumer and peer leaders who lead efforts to reduce discrimination, personally demonstrate that recovery is real and possible and make a positive impact on their community, workplace or school. Television and film production also receive recognition for dignified, respectful and accurate portrayals of mental illness.

The Voice Awards were presented on Sept. 25 at Paramount Studios in Hollywood.

The SAMHSA Special Recognition Award was given to retired U.S. Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli, chief executive officer of One Mind for Research, Inc. and former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, author and lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. The honor is accorded those who work to reduce the discrimination and misperceptions associated with people with behavioral health problems, and increase access to behavioral health services and supports

The Career Achievement Award was bestowed on David O. Russell, screenwriter and director of Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter, for his efforts to educate film audiences about the real experiences of people with behavioral health problems.

Joseph Rogers of Philadelphia accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award for his leadership to advance the recovery movement. He is Chief Advocacy Officer of the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (MHASP), which includes an array of peer-to-peer programs serving local, statewide, and national constituencies.

Consumer/Peer Leadership Awards were presented to the following individuals for sharing their stories of recovery and working to improve public acceptance of people with behavioral health problems.

  • Mia St. John, Calabasas, Calif. From her diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and substance abuse, she is now 24 years sober, a professional boxer, and speaks in schools and juvenile halls on the importance of education and overcoming hardship—sharing her personal experiences with mental illness, addiction and poverty.
  • Jennifer Constantine, Rapid City, S.D. She is the executive director of South Dakota United for Hope and Recovery, a statewide peer-run organization focused on mental health advocacy, education and support that applies a lived experience and whole-health wellness-based perspective.
  • Drew Horn, Freehold, N.J. Having experienced homelessness, three failed businesses, two failed marriages, multiple stays in psychiatric wards, and suicide attempts, compassion is what saved his life. Today he is bringing this same compassion to others as a motivational, inspirational, and therapeutic comic and clown.
  • Robert McKinley Gilmore, Sr., Houston. After battling heroin addiction, , two suicide attempts before age 20 and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), he is now a published author and serves his community as an ordained minister, certified counselor and public speaker.
  • William Kellibrew, IV, Washington, D.C. After grappling with childhood trauma and depression, he is now an internationally recognized motivational speaker, focusing on trauma and recovery, trauma-informed care, sexual assault, children exposed to violence and youth-related programming.

Lauren Grimes of Baltimore was presented with the Young Adult Leadership award. She is On Our Own of Maryland’s transitional age youth outreach coordinator, where she works for peer support and youth-led systems change on county, state and national levels. She aids organizations in incorporating the youth voice into their policy and operations and helps young adults create an equitable and reciprocal relationship with their service systems.

Honorees from the arts and entertainment industry were:

Television Productions

  • Call Me Crazy: A Five Film” (Lifetime) for addressing a variety of mental disorders, peer and family support, and recovery.
    • Click Here for NAMI's interview with Brittany Snow, who plays the title character in Lucy, which follows a law student living with schizophrenia.
  • Elementary” (CBS–Series Award) for addressing substance use disorders and addiction, support from co-workers, and recovery.
  • Homeland” (Showtime–Series Award) for addressing bipolar disorder, resilience, support from co-workers, and recovery.
  • NCIS” (CBS) for the episodes “Shell Shock (Part I)” and “Shell Shock (Part II)” addressing posttraumatic stress, resilience, support from colleagues and co-workers, and recovery.
  • The Newsroom” (HBO) for the episode “Bullies” addressing the impact of trauma, support from colleagues, and recovery.
  • Perception” (TNT–Series Award) for addressing schizophrenia, support from co-workers, and recovery.

Documentary Productions

  • Bill W. for addressing substance use disorders, peer support, and recovery.
  • Of Two Minds for addressing bipolar disorder, friends and family support, and recovery.
  • Running from Crazy for addressing mental disorders, suicide, family support, and recovery.
    • Click Here for NAMI's interview with Mariel Hemingway, granddaughter of the famous novelist Ernest Hemingway, who explores her personal history with mental illness through the film; and director Barbara Kopple, a two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker.

Film Productions

  • Being Flynn for addressing behavioral health problems, suicide, homelessness, friends and family support, and recovery.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower for addressing the impact of trauma, friends and family support, resilience, and recovery.
  • Silver Linings Playbook for addressing bipolar disorder, the impact of trauma, peer support, and recovery.
    • Click Here for NAMI's review of the film.
    • Click Here for NAMI's interview with Director David O. Russell