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2015 Media Awards:

Honoring Connecticut’s Best Mental Health Journalism

 A Message from the Executive Office

For the twenty-seventh year, the CPS, along with the National Alliance on Mental Illness – Connecticut Chapter (NAMI-CT) and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), sponsored a Media Awards event. On March 26, psychiatrists and legislators gathered in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford to honor the work of journalists who put the spotlight on mental illness in an effort to reduce stigma. Articles that originated in Connecticut were eligible for awards in print and broadcast categories. The three sponsoring organizations chose winners based on excellence in exploring the topic of mental illness.

This year’s First Place winner in the print category was awarded to Arielle Levin Becker. The judges of this competition felt that Arielle’s two articles “Children Stuck in Crisis: Connecticut’s Psychiatric Emergency Gets Worse” and “Moms of Children with Mental Illness Share Their Plan, Tell Their Stories, Push for Change” both featured in the Connecticut Mirror were worthy of the first place prize.

In Arielle’s first article she tells the story of children and teens going to emergency rooms in mental health crisis, some waiting for days for an inpatient bed. She explains that this problem has been growing for more than a decade and tells the story of mother’s worry that the system is giving up on her son.

In her second article “Moms of Children with Mental Illness Share Their Pain, Tell Their Stories, Push for Change”, Arielle tells the story of a group of mothers with children suffering from mental illness who formed a group in Farmington Valley. After the Newtown shootings happened they spoke to legislators and shared their families’ struggles publically. Since then the group has tripled in size. They have developed recommendations in hopes to influence DCF’s plan required as part of legislation passed in the wake of the Newtown shootings.

Second Place winner in the print category went to Ana Radelat. Ana’s article “Suicide by Veterans Remains a Daunting Problem as VA Struggles to Improve Care” was featured in the Connecticut Mirror in September 2014. Ana writes about the ongoing struggle veterans experience in finding mental health treatment and how the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs attempts to fix the problem.

Matthew Kauffman from the Harford Courant was recognized as an Honorable Mention for his article “Battle Fatigue, Shell Shock, PTSD: Treatment of Soliders’ Mental Illness Still Evolving.”  In his article Matthew takes us on a journey from the Hartford Courant’s first story of “Shell Shock Soldiers Cured by Peace News” which ran on December 14, 1918 a month after the armistice was signed ending the First World War to more than 75 years later when the newspaper editorialized that the work was still incomplete.

Also receiving an Honorable Mention in the print category is Josh Kovner for his article “State Targets Fragmented Child Mental-Health System” which also appeared in the Hartford Courant. After the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, the legislature ordered DCF to come up with a plan to expand services, streamline bureaucracy, and increase the responsiveness of the children’s behavioral-health system. In the article Josh discusses the DCF plan which targets several areas including: better funding, coordination and accountability of the system; earlier identification of, and intervention in, childhood mental illness; greater access to a consistent “continuum of care”; removing barriers to “culturally and linguistically appropriate” care; and greater emphasis on family engagement.

In addition to the award presentations, the event featured remarks by CPS President Dr. Brian Keyes, NAMI-CT President Marisa Walls, and DMHAS Acting Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon.

The event concluded with a reception where CPS members were afforded the opportunity to discuss issues of importance to the organization with legislators.

For copies of the award-winning articles, please contact Kristin Loney at the CPS Executive Office by telephone at 860-243-3977 or by email at cps@ssmgt.com.

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