Voice Awards focus on suicide prevention

Hollywood’s star shone on social work at the 10th annual Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Voice Awards, held in August in Los Angeles.

The theme this year focused on suicide prevention, and film directors, writers, actors and producers joined social work professionals and educators at the University of California-Los Angeles Royce Hall for the awards program.

This year, a 30-second video produced by the association was shown at the event. The video announced NASW’s 60th anniversary, and recognized that social workers are the main providers for mental health and substance abuse care.

“The Voice Awards showcased NASW and the social work profession, and the important work that social workers perform each and everyday,” said past NASW President Suzanne Dworak-Peck, one of the presenters at the event. “It is critical to encourage, recognize and award accurate portrayals of social work and social issues within the media and entertainment industry.”

She added that it’s important to shape the portrayals of social workers on the big and little screens, because it’s irreplaceable if 15 million to 20 million people can tune in and get an accurate depiction of what social workers do and the clients they serve.

“I was very proud to be part of this effort to educate and inform the broader community about social work and the important issues we are concerned with shaping for our clients, our profession and society,” Dworak-Peck said.

NASW Public Relations Manager Greg Wright, who represented NASW at the event, said NASW’s presence was significant this year, and the association’s involvement at the Voice Awards was the most it’s ever been.

“The Voice Awards honor individuals, TV shows and films that educate the public on substance use and behavioral health issues, and that also advocate on these issues,” Wright said. “NASW, the NASW Foundation and the NASW California Chapter all contributed to our increasing presence.”

Other NASW representatives at this year’s awards program include NASW 2012 Social Worker of the Year Marshall Wong, who was a presenter; and NASW Senior Practice Associate Bekki Ow-Arhus, who was one of the judges.

According to SAMHSA, suicide does not discriminate based on gender, color, race socioeconomic status, or other determinants that can impact health.

The SAMHSA’s Voice Awards program celebrates the contributions of consumer/peer leaders who are making a difference in their communities and literally saving lives.

The Voice Awards program honors consumer/peer leaders and television and film professionals who educate the public about behavioral health. Through their work and personal stories of resilience, both groups of leaders demonstrate that people with mental and/or substance use disorders can and do recover and lead meaningful lives.

For more information, go to samhsa.gov/voice-awards.

Visit SocialWorkersSpeak.org for an article on the Voice Awards, which lists the 2015 winners.

From the October 2015 NASW News.

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