National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI Members Honored with SAMHSA Voice Awards

September 2006

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has honored NAMI members Sandra McQueen-Baker of Florida and Lynn Kohr and Nancy Jensen of Kansas, with “Voice Awards” sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The awards were presented in Los Angeles at a ceremony hosted by actress Mariel Hemingway, in conjunction with SAMHSA’s National Anti-Stigma Campaign. 

McQueen-Baker is executive director and founder of Fresh Start Drop-In Center, Inc, a consumer-driven drop-in center that serves the needs of a predominately African American and Caribbean Islander area of Miami-Dade County.  McQueen-Baker is also a consumer representative for the Eleventh Judicial Criminal Mental Health Project Jail Diversion Program and is actively involved in training police officers in how to respond to individuals who have mental health problems.

Kohr and Jensen helped pass a bill in the Kansas State legislature that ensures that others will not suffer the abuse and serious mistreatment that they and other residents of their group home endured for two decades, including forced slavery, and sexual and financial exploitation.  Jensen spoke bravely at the sentencing following the trial of the owners of the facility.  It was difficult for both women to relive and recount their experiences but they were compelled to do so because most of the other residents were too ill and too damaged by their experiences to speak out.

The Voice Awards recognize consumer leaders who are instrumental in raising awareness and understanding of mental health issues, and whose efforts have helped to promote access to treatment and supports for recovery.

Voice Awards also are presented to producers, writers, and directors in the entertainment industry who have helped to reduce stigma through movies, television series, and documentaries.

David Hoberman, co-creator and executive producer of Monk, received a Career Achievement Award for his years of mental health advocacy.  Other recipients of the entertainment awards, included the movies Proof and Jellysmoke, and episodes of the television series Law & Order: SVU and Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye.