August 21, 2015

By Luna Greenstein

Keris Myrick and Bob Carolla
SAMHSA Director of Consumer Affairs Keris Jan Myrick congratulates Voice Award winner Bob Carolla.

If you were to combine the glamour of the Academy Awards with the passion of a social movement, the result would be something like the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) annual Voice Awards. This award ceremony commemorates advocacy leaders in the entertainment industry and in the mental health community.

Actress Chandra Wilson of the ABC television show “Grey’s Anatomy” hosted this year’s 10th anniversary ceremony on Aug. 12 in Los Angeles, assisted by actors Lou Gusset, Jr. and Ed Asner.

“Whether they are watching a movie or television program, or listening to a personal story of recovery first-hand, it is critical to reach our audiences with messages that reinforce behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective and people recover,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “We applaud the Voice Award winners for their honesty, leadership and courage in giving voice to millions of individuals living with mental and substance use disorders and their recovery journeys.”

Special recognition awards went to actors/singers Wayne Brady and Brittany Snow. Brady’s advocacy includes the ‘Stronger than Stigma’ campaign that encourages men to talk about their mental health and Snow is co-founder of the Jed Foundation’s ‘Love is Louder’ campaign for suicide prevention. An award was also given to Major Sam Cochran (ret.) of the Memphis Police Department, who has led development of crisis intervention teams (CIT) nationwide.

Voice Awards for consumer peer leadership went to individuals who have personally demonstrated that recovery is possible and have led efforts to reduce discrimination and misperceptions associated with mental health conditions. They also reflect a broad representation of a growing movement.

One of the recipients was our own Bob Carolla, NAMI’s Director of Media Relations, who said that the consumer/peer awards, “symbolize the hopes of thousands of people who work towards recovery every day and the faith of hundreds of people who have helped each of us in our journeys.”

The other consumer/peer honorees included: 

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: DeQuincy Lezine, Ph.D., founder of Prevention Communities, LLC, who has worked on public health strategies on suicide prevention and is author of Eight Stories Up: An Adolescent Chooses Hope Over Suicide
  • Young Leader Award: Hayley Winterberg whose recovery included involvement with NAMI Arizona; she is the founder of MY LIFE (Magellan Youth Leaders Inspiring Future Empowerment) and a consultant to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists.
  • Veronica Alston, founder of Ruth’s Miracle Group Home for women who are recovering from abuse, alcohol, drug addiction and incarceration.
  • Neil Campbell, Executive Director of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse
  • Cheryl Sharp, Special Advisor for Trauma Informed Services for the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
  • Dese'Rae L. Stage, a photographer, writer and suicide awareness advocate whose work includes Live through This a collection of portraits and stories of suicide attempt survivors, as told by those survivors.

SAMHSA also honored Hollywood producers, directors and writers with Voice Awards for accurate, respectful portrayals of people living with mental health conditions and for including themes of recovery, which is part of a growing trend that the awards have encouraged over the past 10 years.

Entertainment Industry Leadership Award

  • Pixar for addressing the importance of children’s mental health and emotional well-being in its latest film, Inside Out.


  • “Elementary” (CBS) – series award
  •  “Empire” (FOX)
  • “Madam Secretary” (CBS)


  • A Long Way Down
  • Cake
  • Infinitely Polar Bear
  • To Write Love on Her Arms
  • Welcome to Me


  • Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw
  • That Which I Love Destroys Me


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