2018 SAMHSA Voice Awards Recap

APNA News: The Psychiatric Nursing Voice  |  September 2018 Members' Corner Edition

Each year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hosts the Voice Awards, a celebration of consumer leaders and writers and producers of television and film who raise awareness and understanding of mental health/substance use disorders. APNA participated once again as a program partner. APNA members Kathleen McDermott, DNP, APRN, PMHNP BC, and Christine Costa, DNP, APRN, PMHNP BC attended this year's awards ceremony on our behalf. Below, Kathleen describes their experience:


Kathleen McDermott and Christine Costa
Kathleen McDermott (left) and Christine Costa

Over the past 13 years, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has utilized the Voice Awards program to recognize the experiences and needs of people living with mental illness and/or substance use disorders in communities across the country. APNA has proudly been a program partner with SAMHSA in the Voice Awards for the past eight years. This year, Christine and I had the privilege of attending the Voice Awards in Los Angeles, CA.

SAMHSA’s Voice Awards program recognizes producers and writers in television and film who have done an exemplary job educating the public about mental health and substance use issues and have done so with dignified, respectful, and accurate portrayals of individuals in their scripts, programs, and productions. The Voice Awards also honor community champions for the inspiring role they play in improving the lives of those living with mental illness and/or substance use disorders.

Rick and Kay Warren (photo courtesy of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
Rick and Kay Warren (photo courtesy of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

This year’s Voice Awards were hosted by Rick and Kay Warren, founders of Saddleback Church in Southern California and authors of several best-selling books. Kay and Rick’s lives were forever changed in 2013 when their youngest son died by suicide. In dealing with their grief, Kay emerged as a voice for people in need and devoted her life to advocating for suicide prevention, people living with mental illness, and those living with HIV and AIDS.

This inspiring evening highlighted individuals such as Gilberto Romero. Mr. Romero received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his career in mental health advocacy spanning nearly five decades. As a passionate advocate and consumer, he hosted a radio program in New Mexico on mental health awareness for 18 years and served on SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services National Advisory Council. 

Gilberto Romero (photo courtesy of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
Gilberto Romero (photo courtesy of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

Olympic athlete, Amy Gamble was also honored and presented with the Consumer/Peer/Family Leadership Award. One of Ms. Gamble’s greatest accomplishments is a trip to the 1988 Olympic Games as a member of the US women’s handball team. She later used her background in sports to aid her in facing an even greater challenge – living with bipolar disorder. Ms. Gamble shares her life experiences and lessons learned with others in her book, Bipolar Disorder: My Biggest Competitor: An Olympian’s Journey with Mental Illness

Individuals receiving Voice Awards include: Walter P. Ginter, Rozell Green, Taryn Aiken Hiatt, James Moore, David Stoecker, and Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro. Film and television productions that were honored with Industry Achievement Awards include: Loving Vincent, Mom, Giants, CBS Cares, Heroin(e), 9-1-1, Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Battlefield: Home – Breaking the Silence, Hawaii Five-O, One Day at a Time, and This Is Us.

To learn more to learn more about the individuals and their amazing stories, as well as the film and televisions productions that were honored, I strongly encourage you to view the website at this link https://www.samhsa.gov/voice-awards. This inspiring award show is one that should not be missed.

In closing, I would like to share with you one of the many misty-eyed moments that occurred that evening.  When Ms. KJ Steinberg, one of the writers and producers of the television show This is Us, received the Voice Award for Industry Achievement, she shared her thoughts in saying that despite winning an Emmy Award, a SAG Award, a Golden Globe Award and many other awards, she and her team felt that the Voice Award was the most meaningful. She described, through tears, the honor and validation that she and her team felt in being nominated by SAMHSA and wining this award for a second year in a row.  She said, “this tells us that we are doing something right!”


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