Past Releases: Mental Health Awards and Addictions Services
The mental health “Awards of Excellence Gala” held on April 7, 2009 in San Antonio, TX honored healthcare professionals and organizations that have made strides in improving mental health and addiction services. Their work dramatically improves the lives of people living with mental health illnesses and addictions. Mental health awards were given for peer support programs, assistance finding jobs, providing housing, early childhood detection and intervention, suicide research and prevention, and addictions services.
Contact Communications@thenationalcouncil.org or 202.684.7457, ext. 228
San Antonio, TX (April 7, 2009) — The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council) is honoring behavioral healthcare professionals and organizations for their exceptional contributions to improving services and care for Americans living with mental illness and addictions at its 2009 “Awards of Excellence Gala” held in conjunction with its annual conference in San Antonio, TX on April 7.
“Our awards honorees deliver essential services that literally transform lives and communities. Every day, they find practical solutions to complex problems — bringing hope, optimism, and quality care to our country’s most vulnerable populations with mental illness and addictions. Despite many challenges and complications, our honorees have distinguished themselves. We are proud to celebrate them and their accomplishments,” said Linda Rosenberg, MSW, president and CEO of the National Council.
The 2009 National Council Awards of Excellence winners include:
Excellence in Consumer and Family Advocacy: Jason West of Arcadia, CA
Jason West reaches out to young people with schizophrenia, bringing them uplifting messages of hope and recovery. He helps many who are struggling with mental illness to find jobs and to secure a rewarding life in the community. Born with cerebral palsy, and later diagnosed with schizophrenia, West now openly shares the strength that helped him meet his own challenges head-on.
“Rookie of the Year” Emerging Leader: Vanessa Sweeney of Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority, Metairie, LA
Vanessa Sweeney, manager of the Peer Specialist Program at Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority, receives this first-ever award in this category for bringing unique energy, innovation, leadership, commitment and determination to the mental health and addictions field. Joining the behavioral healthcare field just five years ago, Sweeney has expanded the peer support program she leads and secured the scarce state dollars needed to sustain it.
Lifetime Achievement — Staff Leadership: Jim McDermott of Tarrant County, TX
Under the leadership of Jim McDermott, PhD, the Mental Health Mental Retardation of Tarrant County, Texas has become a model safety net, serving more than 20,000 persons with mental illness and addictions. Among the many noteworthy programs he has introduced is the early childhood intervention program for children under the age of three. The program serves a 9-county area and is the largest of its kind in Texas. It demonstrates McDermott’s foresight in recognizing early intervention and prevention as the building blocks of mental health.
Lifetime Achievement — Staff Leadership: Kathy Reynolds of Washtenaw County, MI
Kathy Reynolds, former CEO of the Washtenaw Community Health Organization (WCHO), has devoted her 30-year career to improving the lives of persons with behavioral health problems mental illness, substance abuse disorders, developmental disabilities and emotional disturbances in Washtenaw County, MI. She was instrumental in leading WCHO to deliver integrated mental and physical healthcare to its patients.
Lifetime Achievement — Staff Leadership: Hubert Wirtz of Columbus, OH
Hubert Wirtz, CEO of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Service Providers, has demonstrated a tireless commitment over the past three decades to developing and maintaining a quality behavioral healthcare system that addresses the needs of consumer and their families. His visionary decision to integrate addiction treatment and mental health provider organizations into one association proved far-reaching and effective.
Lifetime Achievement — Volunteer Leadership: Dr. Norman Farberow of Culver City, CA
Dr. Farberow has devoted more than half a century to suicide research and prevention. He co-founded the Suicide Prevention Center, the first 24-hour crisis line, and the nation’s first scientific, clinically based program to study and prevent suicide. Now retired, Dr. Farberow serves on the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center’s Suicide Prevention Advisory Board.
Lifetime Achievement Award — Volunteer Leadership: Genevieve Hearon of Austin Travis County, TX
Genevieve Hearon, mother to children with physical and mental disabilities, tirelessly advocates on behalf of Texans with mental illnesses and disabilities through her role on the Austin Travis County Mental Health Mental Retardation Center Board of Trustees.
Lifetime Achievement — Volunteer Leadership: Carmela Lunt of Parsippany, NJ
Carmela Lunt is a mother of a child with a severe mental illness and the founder and board president of Community Hope, Inc. In the 1980s, when people with mental illnesses were ushered out of institutions and into communities, she became horrified by the dearth of housing and support services available. She responded by establishing the first community residence with 24-hour, on-site support in Dover, New Jersey. This residence has grown into Community Hope, which now serves more than 300 individuals each year in northern New Jersey.
Excellence in Addictions Education: Nora Volkow, Director of National Institute on Drug Abuse
Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health, has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain, not a weakness of will. As a research psychiatrist and scientist, Dr. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects of drugs and their addictive properties. Her studies have documented changes in the dopamine system affecting the actions of frontal brain regions involved with motivation, drive and pleasure and the decline of brain dopamine function with age. She has also made important contributions to the neurobiology of obesity, ADHD and the behavioral changes that occur with aging.
Excellence in Community Collaboration: The Center for Mental Health of Indiana
The Center for Mental Health successfully developed innovative community partnerships to better provide quality mental health and substance abuse treatment through the creation of a Community Supported Agriculture project, which employs individuals with mental illnesses who traditionally received services through other programs and who had not held a competitive job for many years.
Excellence in the Use of Technology: Community Counseling Centers of Chicago
It is critical for frontline staff to spend as much time as possible with consumers. And when technology makes this possible, it’s time to take notice and provide recognition. The Community Counseling Centers of Chicago’s robust systems have produced impressive results. They’ve saved costs, increased efficiency, and ensured compliance. And more importantly, they’ve helped clinicians better meet the needs of their consumers. C4 also receives a $10,000 grant from Qualifacts, Inc.
Excellence in Innovation: Southwest Housing Solutions of Detroit, MI
Southwest Housing Solutions — a division of Southwest Counseling Solutions in Detroit, Michigan — has provided exceptional recovery-focused care and support, and has worked with community partners to build housing and other supports for individuals with disabilities. In the past four years, Southwest has helped over 500 chronically homeless people and families obtain permanent housing … while tallying an impressive 85% success rate in keeping tenants housed for 6 months and more. SHS also receives a $10,000 grant from Mental Health Weekly.
Excellence in Grassroots Advocacy: Dr. Karl Wilson of Wentsville, MO
Karl Wilson, PhD, president and CEO of Crider Health Center, effectively used a social marketing approach to secure the local tax dollars to sustain a model wraparound services program — the Partnerships with Families — when its federal grant ended. His grassroots approach now serves as a model for change within the mental health and addictions field.
Excellence in Grassroots Advocacy: Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, Denver, Colorado
Thanks to the untiring efforts of the Colorado Behavioral Health Council mental health is now on the map in Colorado. The state legislature is considering a bill that will allow community mental health centers to hire physicians. The Council also successfully advocated for quick restoration of Medicaid benefits when incarcerated individuals re-enter the community. And they are now focused on efforts to expand healthcare coverage for those they serve.
State Legislator of the Year: Representative Ciro Rodriguez of San Antonio, TX
Congressman Ciro Rodriguez from the U.S. House of Representatives represents the 23rd District of Texas. He started his career as a social worker for the Bexar County Department of Mental Health & Mental Retardation. Today, he is a stalwart voice in Congress for veterans with physical and mental disabilities … advocating for them to ensure help is available in their communities.
State Legislator of the Year: Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte of District 26
The Honorable Leticia van de Putte is an unequivocal advocate for better healthcare for children and families, and a firm supporter of our veterans, Senator Van de Putte is recognized as one of the most effective and caring legislators in Texas.
The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,600 behavioral healthcare organizations that provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental health illnesses and addictions services to nearly six million adults, children and families in communities across the country. The National Council and its members bear testimony to the fact that medical, social, psychological and rehabilitation services offered in community settings help people with mental health illnesses and addictions disorders recover and lead productive lives.