Voice awards honor realistic media portrayals

The May 2008 SAMHSA awards ceremony honored accurate and realistic film and television portrayals of persons with mental health disorders

by Public Relations Staff

June 18, 2007 — The American Psychological Association recently partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to applaud television and film writers who incorporate dignified, respectful and accurate depictions of people living with mental health problems into their works.

The 2008 Voice Awards, held at the Paramount Studios in Hollywood on May 28, were hosted by actors Joe Pantoliano, of the HBO series "The Sopranos," and Nikki Blonsky, star of the movie "Hairspray." The awards ceremony also recognized community leaders for raising awareness of mental health problems and working against discrimination.

"As this year's Voice Award winners prove, progress is being made on television and film portraying the 'reality' of mental illnesses instead of the unfair stereotypes of the past," said Terry Cline, Ph.D., SAMHSA Administrator and APA member. "Through the Voice Awards, more than 50 million Americans with mental health problems applaud the work and tremendous power of the entertainment industry and community leaders to influence public opinion and behavior related to mental health."

As part of its Public Education Campaign, the APA has served as a partner for all three years in which the ceremony has been conducted. "We believe the entertainment industry offers a great way to get the word out to millions of people about the importance of seeking help for emotional problems," said APA Executive Director for Professional Practice Katherine Nordal, PhD.

Dr. Nordal attended the event along with APA Practice Directorate Assistant Executive Director for Public Relations Luana Bossolo. They were accompanied to the awards ceremony by California Psychological Association (CPA) Public Education Campaign Coordinator Jana Martin, PhD, CPA President Miguel Gallardo, PsyD, and two early career psychologists from the Los Angeles area—Michi Fu, PhD, and Ken Liberatore, PhD. The Practice Directorate's Director of Public Relations & Special Projects Sophie Bethune served as an awards judge.

Award winners in television included "The Sopranos," "Monk," and "General Hospital" for episodes on depression and suicide, obsessive-compulsive disorder and bi-polar disorder, respectively. Film winners "Canvas," "Reign Over Me," and "Home of the Brave" were honored for their accurate depictions of schizophrenia and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Other Voice Awards partners this year included the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Social Workers, American Psychiatric Foundation and Mental Health Media Partnership.