APA helps honor positive portrayals of people with mental health problems

The Voice Awards Program recognizes the entertainment industry for “dignified, respectful and accurate portrayals of people with mental health problems.”

by Communications Staff

September 13, 2006 — APA Executive Director for Professional Practice Russ Newman, PhD, JD, presented an award recognizing the film “Proof” as part of the “Voice Awards” ceremony held last month in Los Angeles. Actress Mariel Hemingway, who hosted the awards program, accepted the honor on behalf of the film’s writers and producers.

The Voice Awards program, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), recognizes the entertainment industry for what SAMHSA describes as “dignified, respectful and accurate portrayals of people with mental health problems.” APA is a Voice Awards Program partner.

The plot of “Proof” centers around the authorship of a mathematical proof and calls into question long-held beliefs about credibility, trust and mental illness. In his remarks, Dr. Newman lauded the cast, led by Oscar winners Sir Anthony Hopkins and Gwynneth Paltrow and Oscar nominee Jake Gylenhaal, for “proving that mental illness does not diminish the love, respect and work of a mathematical genius.”

According to Luana Bossolo, acting assistant executive director for public relations in the APA Practice Directorate, the purpose of the Voice Awards reflects APA’s own Public Education Campaign. “Our campaign is also working to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and to encourage people with mental health problems to seek appropriate help.”

SAMHSA received more than 35 award nominations involving original television, film and radio productions first released during 2005. A panel of judges reviewed the nominations and selected nine to receive awards.

Among the honorees were: an episode of the NBC crime drama, “Law & Order: SVU”; the documentary, “I Have Tourette’s, But Tourette’s Doesn’t Have Me”; and National Public Radio’s Morning Edition program, “Katrina and Recovery.” The Voice Awards ceremony also honored several mental health consumer leaders and advocates.