The National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council) is recognizing 41 individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to help people recover from mental illness and addictions, through its annual Awards of Excellence ceremony on April 9 during the 2013 National Council Conference at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas. Former First Lady, and founder of the Carter Center, Rosalynn Carter is the guest of honor at this celebration, which will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Community Mental Health Act signed into law by President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
“The National Council Awards of Excellence this year commemorate President Kennedy’s vision of a new frontier in behavioral health, one in which individuals with mental illnesses and addictions recover in community. Our honorees are helping us advance toward this new frontier — one piece of art, one program, one scientific breakthrough, one public policy success, and one story of hope at a time,” said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council. “The stories are inspiring. Honorees have turned their private pain into public passion. We applaud their selflessness, their service, and their sense of commitment,” she added.
The National Council Awards of Excellence feature three main categories. The Impact Awards honor the innovative and inspirational efforts of individuals and organizations — staff, board leaders, volunteers, consumers, families, and community partners — who are working to change the lives of children, adults, and families living with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. The Reintegration Awards honor the contributions of individuals who live with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and battle tremendous odds, as well as those who treat and support them — inspiring others and improving lives along the way. The Welcome Back Awards support the fight against the stigma associated with depression and promote the understanding that depression is treatable.
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter is being honored with the National Council Excellence in Public Service award. Steven Sharfstein, President and CEO of Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore, is also being honored with a National Council Excellence in Public Service award. Sharfstein has, over the years, led the way in the moral and humane treatment of individuals with mental illnesses and addictions. In the classroom he has trained generations of community psychiatrists. He also embraces scientific breakthroughs that promise new and better treatments and leads public policy efforts to manage costs and improve care.
The pioneering efforts of Rosalynn Carter and Steven Sharfstein paved the way for the many other individuals being honored.