On June 13, AFSP held its Allies in Action Awards ceremony at the Reserve Officers Association near the U.S. Capitol. The event brought together mental health professionals, congressional leaders and staff, advocacy groups, corporations and others to recognize individuals for their dedication and leadership efforts in suicide prevention.
Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) for his leadership and work to sponsor Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Legislation in the Senate during the 112th and 113th Congress. MHFA training programs aimed at school and emergency personnel will give these important community gatekeepers the skills they need to help identify someone with a mental illness and where they can refer them for help in their community.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) for his support of the Excellence in Mental Health Act. The Act would provide a secure, steady funding stream for community-based mental health and addiction services provided by qualified organizations, to be designated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as Federally Qualified Behavioral Health Centers (FQBHCs). With a stronger community mental health infrastructure, people in need of mental health services will have access to care and lives will be saved.
Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ) for his leadership and work to sponsor Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Legislation in the House during the 113th Congress. MHFA training programs aimed at school and emergency personnel will give these important community gatekeepers the skills they need to help identify someone with a mental illness and where they can refer them for help in their community.
Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ) for securing $40 million in the final 2012 and 2013 budget, as well as submitting a request for 2014 federal appropriations to support military and veteran suicide prevention efforts. The funds support suicide prevention efforts for active-duty soldiers and reservists at the Department of Defense and veterans’ suicide prevention at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Activities funded include outreach to vulnerable soldiers and veterans through TV, radio and social media, as well as direct suicide intervention efforts.
Federal Partner Awards
Department of Veteran Affairs
Dr. Janet Kemp for her efforts in shaping the direction of the VA’s Suicide Prevention Program through policy development, provider and patient education, and implementation of assessment and treatment strategies throughout the VA system. Dr. Kemp also directs and advises the suicide prevention coordinators at each local VA and is the national program advisor for the Veterans Crisis Line and Veterans Chat.
Department of Defense
Bruce A. Shahbaz's superb analysis of Army medical mission capabilities and suicide demographic data, along with his stellar organizational and communication skills, directly affected senior Army leadership strategies to proactively and aggressively reset the Army’s campaign strategy on suicide prevention.
Congressional Staff Awards
Kate Mevis, legislative assistant in the office of Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), has led efforts in the Senate to reauthorize critical youth suicide prevention programs under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act.
Ane Romero, legislative assistant in the office of Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), has led the efforts of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus. This has included efforts to promote suicide prevention and mental health in offices on Capitol Hill, including coordinating event for Congressional staff during “May is Mental Health” month.