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APAF hosts VOICE Awards Blog Week


Voice Awards Blog Week - Monday

To encourage important conversations and education leading up to SAMHSA's VOICE Awards 2018, The American Psychiatric Association Foundation is hosting the VOICE Awards Blog Week from July 16th-20th as an opportunity for Voice Awards partners, including APAF, Mental Health America, and Cohen Veteran’s Network, to share their expertise about behavioral health. 

For each of the 1 in 24 people living with a Serious Mental Illness, or SMI, there is a family (or friends) working to understand that person's experience and help them seek relief and treatment.  

The very technical definition of a SMI, according to SAMHSA, is as follows: "As defined by federal regulation, a serious mental illness is a condition that affects “persons aged 18 or older who currently or at any time in the past year have had a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder (excluding developmental and substance use disorders) of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria specified within DSM-V (APA, 2013) that has resulted in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities” such as maintaining interpersonal relationships, activities of daily living, self-care, employment, and recreation. (SAMHSA, 2013, p. 11) This definition excludes dementias and mental disorders due to a general medical condition. (SAMHSA, 2006)"

The limitations experienced by patients with SMI makes a support system of friends and family a critical need in their lives. But creating and maintaining that support system is often a struggle in itself. If friends and family are not already discouraged by stigma, barriers to care, and helping with the patient's daily needs, the patient's behavior brought on by their illness may be difficult to see past. For a person coping with SMI and their circle of support, educational resources, services, treatment and education can build a culture of understanding and make a world of difference. 

For information on the warning signs of SMI, details on different disorders, how to seek treatment, and resources that can help along the way, visit's Patient and Families page. We encourage anyone experiencing symptoms of a SMI to be seen by a mental health professional. People with suicidal thoughts or intent, or thoughts of harming others, need immediate attention. 

SAMHSA’S Voice Awards program honors people in recovery and their family members who are improving the lives of people with mental illnesses, substance use disorders, or both in communities across the country. The awards program also recognizes television and film productions that educate the public about behavioral health and showcase that recovery is real and possible through treatment and recovery supports. The 2018 Voice Awards event will take place on August 8 at UCLA’s Royce Hall.