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SAMHSA Honors 'The Sopranos,' 'Monk,' 'Dirt' at Star-Studded Voice Awards in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, May 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Writers and producers from "The Sopranos," "Monk," "Dirt," Reign Over Me, and others were honored at the 2008 Voice Awards last night by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), hosted by award-winning actor and mental health advocate Joe Pantoliano and Hairspray film star Nikki Blonsky, at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles.

Winners were recognized for incorporating dignified, respectful, and accurate depictions of people living with mental health problems into their programs and films. Awards were also given to outstanding community leaders with mental illnesses who have had a positive impact on the acceptance of people with mental health problems in society.

"The Voice Awards honors television and film writers and producers who have created realistic characterizations of people living with mental illnesses," said Terry Cline, Ph.D., SAMHSA administrator. "We are also recognizing people with mental health problems who have demonstrated that recovery is real and possible, and who promote understanding and support for others with mental illnesses."

Winners in the television category were:

-- "The Sopranos" (HBO) for the episode "The Second

Coming" addressing suicide and depression;

-- "Dirt" (FX) for its pilot episode addressing schizophrenia;

-- "Monk"(USA) for the episode "Mr. Monk is at Your

Service" addressing obsessive compulsive disorder;

-- "House" (FOX) for the episode "Resignation"

addressing suicide;

-- "Friday Night Lights" (NBC) for multiple episodes addressing

bipolar disorder;

-- "Huff" (Showtime) for its episode "Whipped Doggie"

addressing schizophrenia;

-- "Crossing Jordan" (NBC) for its episode "Save Me"

addressing schizophrenia; and

-- "General Hospital" (ABC) for multiple episodes addressing

bipolar disorder.

Canvas, Reign Over Me, and Home of the Brave won in the film category. Based on writer-director Joe Greco's own experiences growing up with a mother with schizophrenia, Canvas tells the story of a family dealing with the challenges of a loved one's mental illness. Reign Over Me, starring Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle, explores the rekindled relationship between college roommates after one experiences post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) upon losing his family during the September 11 terrorist attacks. In another look at PTSD, Home of the Brave presented what happens when four American soldiers return home from Iraq to deal in civilian life with the memories of war.

Documentary winners included Cracking Up, Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, Through My Eyes, and the MTV documentary series "True Life," for its "True Life: I Have Autism" and "True Life: I Have Tourette's Syndrome" episodes.

Cracking Up depicts a year in the life of 12 individuals who use laughter as therapy and face their mental illnesses through the use of stand-up comedy. For his film, British actor and comedian Stephen Fry interviewed celebrities including Robbie Williams, Carrie Fisher, Richard Dreyfuss, and others about the impact of bipolar disorder and how they have recovered.

In Through My Eyes, Emmy-winning producer Linda Midgett educates teens about mental health issues by filming the moving testimonies of their peers who have mental health challenges.

In MTV's "True Life" episodes, young people share how they deal with their disorders in their own words and illustrate that they are still able to live life to the fullest.

The Voice Awards bestowed its Consumer Leadership Award on five mental health advocates and community leaders -- Joan Esnayra, Arlington, Va.; Sharon Wise, Washington, D.C.; Paula Comunelli, Santa Cruz, Calif.; Herminio Maldonado, New York City; and Marley Prunty-Lara, Minneapolis -- and its Young Adult Leadership Award to Marvin Alexander, Miami, FL. They were honored for their work to raise awareness about the prevalence of mental health problems and to help ensure that people are able to access services and supports that assist recovery.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Larry Fricks, Cleveland, Ga. -- a former journalist with bipolar disorder whose long career includes the development and adoption of multiple innovative, recovery-oriented programs and services -- by journalist and author Richard Cohen. Cohen featured Frick's story of recovery and his battle to improve the lives of others also dealing with mental illness in his book, Strong at the Broken Places. In addition, SAMHSA presented a Special Recognition Award to comedian and host of NBC's Deal or No Deal Howie Mandel for his commitment to children's mental health as the National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day Ambassador.

The Voice Awards are part of the Campaign for Mental Health Recovery, a multi-year public service advertising program of SAMHSA and the Ad Council to promote understanding and support for young adults and others with mental illnesses.

The 2008 Voice Awards is supported by the following organizations: Ad Council, Alliance Healthcare Foundation, American Psychiatric Foundation, American Psychological Association, The California Endowment, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance,, Mental Health America, Mental Health Media Partnership, NARSAD, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, No Kidding, Me Too!, RTI International, and the Writers Guild of America West.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the lead Federal agency for improving the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment and mental health services in the United States.

SOURCE Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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