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SAMHSA recognizes behavioral health advocates

February 4, 2013
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has launched the Voice Awards Fellowship Program – a pilot project designed to give consumer/peer leaders in the behavioral health community the skills they need to shape public perceptions of mental health and substance use recovery through storytelling.

SAMHSA officials and consumer/peer organizations recognize the Voice Awards Fellowship Program’s potential to promote social inclusion in the workplace, in schools, and in communities nationwide. The organization believes empowering advocates to share their stories is an invaluable way to educate the public about the real experiences of people with behavioral health problems. It also shows that people do recover and lead full and meaningful lives in their communities.

The Voice Awards Fellows, a team of eight behavioral health advocates from across the Nation, will share, from an individual perspective, their stories of recovery and resilience using a variety of communications vehicles over a 12-month time frame. 

SAMHSA received Fellowship applications from nearly 40 individuals. Fellows were selected based on their story, their potential to demonstrate a larger truth about behavioral health, and their comfort level sharing their story publicly. The 2012-2013 class of Fellows includes the following members:

·         Eric Arauz (East Brunswick, NJ)

·         Karen Curlis (Akron, OH)

·         Katherine Heart (West Mifflin, PA)

·         Kevin Hines (Walnut Creek, CA)

·         Clarence Jordan (Cordova, TN)

·         Kranti Kripakaran (Springfield, IL)

·         Jennifer Matesa (Pittsburgh, PA)

  ·         Stephen Puibello (Cliffside Park, NJ)

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