It is imperative to honor people who struggle almost all their life to create a difference in the lives of others. There are people and organizations that lead the pack by making revolutionary changes through scientific researches, innovative programs and campaigns to bring about positive changes in people’s physical and mental state of being.
Every year, non-profit body Mental Health America (MHA) honors individuals who make significant efforts to help people living with mental health conditions. At the MHA’s 2016 Annual Conference: Media, Messaging and Mental Health, to be held from June 8 to 10, 2016, the organization will recognize programs and felicitate individuals who took up the baton to fight the discrimination and stigma involving mental health conditions.
Origin of MHA’s Clifford W. Beers Award
The MHA’s highest honor, Clifford W. Beers Award, is given in memory of founder Clifford W. Beers, a volunteer for the country’s mental health advocacy movement. Established in 1976, the award is presented annually to recognize contributions made by individuals, media and mental health patients or someone whose contribution to the mental health fraternity is worth mentioning and best reflects the example set by Beers.
Beers was born in 1876 in New Haven, Connecticut. During his childhood, he experienced frequent bouts of depression that drove him to try to kill himself many times in the early 1900s. He was in and out of mental hospitals, private and state hospitals and was subjected to sensory deprivation, isolation, beatings, chokings and verbal abuse. He penned his autobiography, A Mind That Found Itself: An Autobiography in 1908, depicting his harrowing experience of living with a mental health condition.
Soon after recovering, he initiated a drive to improve the conditions of mentally ill patients who seek treatment in hospitals and mental health centers. He founded the National Committee for Mental Hygiene which merged with National Mental Health Foundation and the Psychiatric Foundation to become what it is today.
Mental illness does not spell the end of life
When award-winning suicide prevention and mental health advocate Kevin Hines says, “Life is the single greatest gift we have ever been given… or will ever be given,” he personifies the value of life and fighting all odds to preserve its existence.
Hines, a documentary filmmaker, is an example of undeterred courage and strength that uplifts the human spirit in spite of mental health issues. Looking at his remarkable contribution to improving the conditions of people with mental health issues, he has been conferred with MHA’s highest honor “the Clifford W. Beers Award” for 2016.
The Golden Gate Bridge is not only an architectural marvel but marks the beginning of a newfound life of Hines. A victim of bipolar disorder at the tender age of 19, Hines attempted suicide from the Golden Gate but survived the fall. He is one of the only 34 to survive the fall, and the only one to regain full physical mobility. The fall did break his body, but not his spirit. He regained his willpower and started advocating the importance of endurance, hard work, and support to fight mental illness.
Hines’s determination to live and stay mentally fit has become an inspiration for thousands of people worldwide. His memoir Cracked not broken tells the tale of his struggle with a psychiatric condition and explains what it takes to survive and thrive after a suicide attempt. Kevin has dedicated his entire life to renew hopes of millions who are suffering from mental health disorders.
There are other MHA awards that have been conferred on people and organizations whose contributions to prevent mental health have brought positive changes in the society. The list of the winners are:
- mPower Award to Nancy Su and Eddie Liu of the Duke University for creating smartphone apps for depression, called MoodTools.
- Innovation in Programming Award to MHA Georgia for Project Healthy Moms that increase awareness, and provide treatment and support for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).
- George Goodman and Ruth P. Brudney Social Work Award to Karen Sowers, Ph.D., professor and dean of the College of Social Work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville for her significant contribution to caring and treating people with mental illness.
- Media Award to television shows Mom (CBS) and You’re the Worst (FXX), Patrick Kennedy for his book A Common Struggle, and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune for its multi-part project, The S Word: The Stigma of Schizophrenia.
Future of mental wellness
Every single contribution counts when it comes to improving mental health conditions of people. Sovereign Mental Health Services is striving to help people get back their mental well-being through mental health programs designed in accordance with their needs. If you or your loved one is a victim of mental disorders, please contact us at 866-954-0529 to know more about mental health facilities.