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NMHA Honors Actress, Author, Former First Lady of New Jersey, Iraq Veteran for Outstanding Contributions to Mental Health

NMHA Honors Actress, Author, Former First Lady of New Jersey, Iraq Veteran for Outstanding Contributions to Mental Health 6/10/2006 4:51:00 PM
ALEXANDRIA, Va., — The National Mental Health Association will honor actress and author Brooke Shields, former New Jersey Governor Richard Codey and his wife, Mary Jo, and Iraq war veteran Blake Miller, known to millions worldwide as the “Marlboro Man,” at its Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., June 7 through June 10. NMHA will recognize these individuals along with two ground-breaking reports, a book on Abraham Lincoln and a “secret” Web site for their unique contributions to advancing awareness and acceptance of mental wellness and mental illness. NMHA developed the forWARDS(tm) to pay tribute to the people, actions and events that move the cause of mental health forward each year.

Brooke Shields, author of Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression, not only bravely shared her own experience with post-partum-depression, which affects 10 to 20 percent of new mothers, but withstood a flurry of highly-publicized criticism from actor Tom Cruise. Through sharing her own personal story, Shields educated millions worldwide of the challenges of postpartum depression — an illness women have struggled with for centuries. Her book, along with her courage to address the stigma of mental illness, has advanced the understanding and challenges facing the more than 54 million Americans with mental illness each day. NMHA will also honor Shields with the William Styron Award. This prestigious award is named after Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Styron, who waged a lifelong battle against depression.

NMHA presents this award annually to a public figure who has spoken out about his or her mental health problems and recovery.

One of New Jersey’s most influential couples, the Codeys, are being recognized as forWARDS(tm) recipients for their outspoken advocacy for women and their families who deal with postpartum depression. For more than a decade, the Codeys have advocated for legislation and better education on postpartum depression. Mrs. Codey, who dealt with depression following the birth of her two sons, has been at the forefront of the issue, speaking out on behalf of new mothers affected by postpartum depression — a period of sadness, fatigue and severe mood swings believed to be caused by stress and hormonal imbalance.

The Codeys’ hard work has recently resulted in a New Jersey state law requiring health care professionals to provide pregnant women with prenatal education about postpartum depression and to screen all new mothers for signs of depression.

In 2004, then-Marine Blake Miller survived a harrowing all night firefight in Fallujah. Exhausted from the many hours under siege, Miller lit a cigarette and within the blink of an eye, cameraman Luis Sinco took a single, solitary picture. That picture thrust Miller into the international spotlight where he became an instant icon of the Iraq war, known to many as the new “Marlboro Man” — a name Miller is happy to disown. Miller returned home, was discharged from the military and quickly fragmented into a world of chaos and uncertainty — the world of post traumatic stress disorder. He is now facing his battle with PTSD head-on and is being recognized for his courage to speak out about his PTSD – a mental illness that affects as many as one in six returning American soldiers.

The Post Secret art project, http://www.PostSecret.com, is also being honored with an NMHA forWARD. PostSecret receives anonymous postcards from all over the world and uploads messages on its website. PostSecret provides individuals an anonymous venue to express their deepest secrets, without fear of being mocked or ridiculed. The Web site serves as an emotional outlet for thousands who have sought comfort in telling their personal stories — many concerning mental health issues and suicide — gaining a sense of relief that they no longer have to keep their secret thoughts and information bottled up inside.

The Institute of Medicine is being recognized for its latest Quality Chasm Report. Released in November 2005, “Crossing the Quality Chasm: Improving the Quality of Health Care for Mental and Substance-Use Conditions” builds upon the foundation established by the Crossing the Quality Chasm (2001) report. Together these reports outline the significant challenges that face American health care in general, and specifically, the care of mental health and substance abuse conditions. They concluded that a quality chasm — like the one observed in the general health care system — exists in the mental health and substance abuse sector and requires significant overhaul or transformation, consistent with the findings of the President’s 2003 New Freedom Commission report.

The Report offers two overarching recommendations: health care for general, mental and substance use problems and illnesses must be delivered with an inherent understanding of the interactions between mind/brain and the rest of the body. Secondly, the principles that were outlined in the original Quality Chasm Report can be and should be applied in the day-to-day operations of health care for mental health and substance abuse care, but tailored to reflect the characteristics that distinguish these problems and illnesses from general health care.

The National Business Group on Health’s “Employer’s Guide to Behavioral Health Services: A Road Map and Recommendations for Evaluating, Designing, and Implementing Behavioral Health Services” is being honored for its historic work to improve employee mental health care and services. The Report, funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, is a breakthrough study on how American businesses approach mental health and substance abuse problems and recommends that employers re-evaluate and redesign mental health and substance abuse coverage for their employees.

NMHA is recognizing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared the juvenile death penalty unconstitutional. In March 2005, the Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Christopher Simmons, upholding the Missouri Supreme Court ruling that imposing the death penalty on Simmons, a 17-year-old at the time of his crime, violated the Eighth Constitutional Amendment prohibiting any “cruel and unusual punishment.” With this decision, the United States joined the ranks of the majority of nations that view the juvenile death penalty as inhumane.

Aetna is being honored with a forWARD for its innovative depression management program. Prompted in part by employers that cite depression as a frequent cause of absenteeism and low productivity, Aetna began paying for depression management programs in dozens of medical offices around the country.

The Aetna Depression Management program provides clinical tools for physicians, training for office staff, access to Aetna nurse case managers and support from Aetna’s network of behavioral health specialists. This program increases reimbursement for physicians who actively screen and talk with patients to diagnose depression. This approach provides physicians with the tools to more effectively diagnose and treat depression in the primary care setting, which leads to better overall care. Research suggests that only half of the millions of Americans affected by depression each year seek help.

Lincoln’s Melancholy, a book by Joshua Wolf Shenk, is being recognized for its insight and groundbreaking review of President Lincoln’s life-long battle with depression. Through Lincoln’s Melancholy, the 19 million Americans who experience depression can learn how President Lincoln battled recurrent depression and how he effectively used his own depression to lead the nation through one of the most difficult periods in our history.

The National Mental Health Association is the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness. With more than 340 affiliates nationwide, NMHA works to improve the mental health of all Americans through advocacy, education, research and service.
SOURCE:- Eileen Sexton of the National Mental Health Association
http://www.usnewswire.com/
© 2006 U.S. Newswire

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