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2018 Voice Awards put a special emphasis on suicide addiction, addiction treatment

Past NASW President Suzanne Dworak-Peck and awardee Rozell Green

Past NASW President Suzanne Dworak-Peck (left) poses for a photo after presenting a Voice Award to Rozell Green.

Each year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Voice Awards recognize individuals as well as producers and writers in film and television who have done an excellent job of education the public about mental health and addiction issues.

And although this year was no different, a particular emphasis was place don sucide prevention and drug addiction.

The ceremony was held August 8 in Los Angeles where the films “Loving Vincent,” “Battlefield: Home – Breaking the Silence,” “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405,” “Heroin(E),” and the television shows “This is Us,” “9-1-1,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Giants,” “Mom,” and “One Day at a Time,” were lauded.

According to SAMHSA, 115 Americans die every day from opioid overdose — now a public health crisis — and one American commits suicide every 13 minutes.

The recent deaths by suicide of celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are of particular note, said Arne Owens, SAMHSA Voice Awards co-host and the organization’s principal deputy assistant secretary.

“According to the CDC,” Owens said. “the rate of suicides is rising and the recent deaths of celebrities are making people pay attention.”

Owens added that people who are living with a mental illness on average die “10 years earlier than those who do not have a mental illness.”

Held in UCLA’s Royce Hall, the evening’s first recipient was Taryn Aiken Hiatt, the Utah and Nevada area director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

Hiatt participated in the short film series, “Voices of Hope,” which highlights how suicide has impacted them personally. Hiatt lost her father, Terry Aiken, to suicide in 2002 and is a survivor of her own attempts. Picking up the first of the crystal Voice Awards trophies of the evening, she told the audience it is up to them to “create a culture of prevention of suicide.”

Co-hosts and best-selling author and pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, spoke about how the 2013 death by suicide of their 27-year-old son, Matthew, who lived with depression, left them “devastated.”

“Faith communities can help change the dialogue about mental illness and addiction,” Kay Warren told attendees.

“Recovery is possible and it’s happening today,” Rick Warren said.

The awards also honored:

  • Rozell Green founder and executive director of Another Chance of Atlanta, Inc., which provides support services for women across the state of George.
  • Amy Gamble, a former Olympic athlete and a champion of mental health advocacy. She is executive director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of Greater Wheeling, West Virginia.
  • James Moore, an advocate for those living with substance use disorders in Mississippi.
  • Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro, an advocate for disability rights, sex workers’ rights and restorative justice in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • David Stoecker, MSW, LCSW, founder and director of the nonprofit Better Life in Recovery in Missouri.
  • Gilberto Romero, winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as a mental health advocate for nearly five decades in New Mexico. Romero is also a previous recipient of the NASW New Mexico Chapter Public Citizen of the Year.
  • Walter P. Ginter, recipient of the SAMHSA Special Recognition Award. Ginter is the founding project director of the Medication-Assisted Recovery Services (MARS) Project, which currently includes 17 programs across the country and two programs in Vietnam.

Each year, the Voice Awards places a spotlight on mental health, substance abuse disorders, suicide prevention, drug addiction and have gone to films, TV shows and individuals who increase public awareness about mental health, substance abuse disorders and to better the lives of people living with mental illness and substance use disorders.

From left: NASW Senior Public Relations Specialist Aliah Wright, NASW Past President Suzanne Dworak-Peck, NASW California Chapter Director of Membership Jolene Hui, and NASW California Chapter Board Member Christina Paddock.

From left: NASW Senior Public Relations Specialist Aliah Wright, NASW Past President Suzanne Dworak-Peck, NASW California Chapter Director of Membership Jolene Hui, and NASW California Chapter Board Member Christina Paddock.

NASW (The NASW Foundation, NASW and the NASW California Chapter) is  a major sponsor of the Voice Awards and Past NASW President Suzanne Dworak Peck took part in the ceremony and presented an award to Rozell Green.

“NASW has been a proud sponsor of the Voice Awards for more than a decade,” said NASW Public Relations Manager Greg Wright. “This association has long recognized that an effective way to educate the public about mental health and substance use disorders was to weave accurate storylines about these conditions into the plots of movies and TV programs and on news segments seen by millions of Americans each day.”

“NASW is also glad it is able to honor individuals such as Rozell Green, Gilberto Romero, and social worker David Stoecker who have surmounted personal challenges and gone one to help thousands of others overcome mental illness and substance use disorders.”

Watch NASW’s introduction video at the Voice Awards:

Watch NASW Past President Suzanne Dworak-Peck present a Voice Award to Rozell Green:

Watch Suzanne Dworak-Peck’s Voice Award interview about NASW’s efforts to work with the media and entertainment industries to raise awareness about mental illness and substance use disorders:




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