NAMI Honors LA Times and SF Chronicle for Leading Mental Health Reforms

New York Times, Boston Globe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Idaho Public Television, and Others Also Receive Outstanding Media Awards

Jun 20 2001

Arlington, VA - Each year, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) honors reporters, editors and producers who have made a difference-covering stories or issues with exceptional accuracy, insight, balance, and sensitivity, and helping to challenge discrimination, or build public support for reforms that can improve the lives of people with mental illness.

In 2001, NAMI is honoring the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle for outstanding editorial writing that has built broad, public support for legislative reform of the treatment system for mental illness.

 NAMI cited as an example the Chronicle's publication of a full page editorial on February 21, 2001 entitled "State of Neglect: California's 30-Year Failure to Confront Mental Illness."

"The U.S. Surgeon General has called on the news media to help achieve greater public understanding of mental illness and to eliminate the stigma that often prevents people from getting the help they need," said NAMI Executive Director Richard Birkel, Ph.D. "NAMI's media awards traditionally recognize leaders in the profession who have set new standards of excellence in moving toward those goals."

"The Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle represents civic responsibility at its best," said NAMI Executive Director Richard Birkel, Ph.D. "They have provided sustained, constant commentary, identifying and explaining issues, and keeping them at the forefront of the public agenda. Even for those who may disagree, their editorial positions have helped focus and raise the quality of public debate."

"Together, they have provided a model for newspapers in other states." Birkel said. "The issues that confront California confront the rest of the nation. Mental illnesses are biological brain disorders. No one is immune."

NAMI is recognizing The New York Times for investigative reporting that has led to greater oversight and hope of legislative reforms in the state's for-profit adult home industry. The Boston Globe is being honored for health and science reporting on "The Changing Face of Mental Illness" and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for feature writing, based on a four-part series in August and September 2000 about "Broken Promises: 25 Years After We Unlocked the Mentally Ill."

For public education, NAMI is honoring the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare and Idaho Public Television which together produced two documentaries: "Hearts and Minds: Teens & Mental Illness," which won a Peabody Award earlier this year, and "In Our Own Voice."

"NAMI is especially proud of the Idaho documentaries," Birkel noted. "They include interviews with several NAMI Idaho families. They are an important model of what state agencies and public television can do to create greater public awareness about the nature of mental illness and to reduce the stigma that surrounds it.

NAMI will present the media awards at its annual convention in Washington, D.C. on July 14, 2001. Additional honorees include The St. Petersburg Times, ABC's Prime Time Thursday, The Discovery Channel, and the radio series, The Infinite Mind, produced by Lichtenstein Creative Media.