Mental Health America to Honor Connecticut U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy with Legislator of the Year Award Recognizes Their Awareness, Sensitivity in Sparking National Dialogue on Mental Health in Aftermath of Sandy Hook Tragedy

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Mental Health America will honor Connecticut U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy with the organization's Legislator of the Year Award on Thursday, June 6, during Capitol Hill Day of its 2013 Annual Conference, Why Wellness Works: Breakthroughs and Pathways to Whole Health.

Senators Blumenthal and Murphy are being presented the award for their exceptional leadership in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy. 

"Their awareness and sensitivity in sparking a national dialogue that appropriately avoided conflating violence with mental illness is a testament to their commitment to behavioral health issues," said Wayne W. Lindstrom, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America.

"Mental Health America also applauds their support of a wide breadth of initiatives that improve the lives of people with, or at risk of, mental health and substance use conditions."

"People should expect and deserve the same access to quality mental health services as other health services," Senator Blumenthal said.  "As Attorney General and now as United States Senator, I have fought for those who desperately need diagnosis and treatment for mental illness.   Newtown is a tragic reminder of the critical and vital need for such diagnosis and treatment and an important impetus for positive change."

Senator Murphy said: "In the wake of the tragedy on December 14th, the debate about how to recognize and treat mental illness has been put back in the spotlight. We face major challenges in this country as we determine how to get those affected by mental illness the help they need without further stigmatizing this population. Reforming the mental health system should be a top priority in Congress, and I'm encouraged by the strong bipartisan vote in support of improvements to our mental health system.  I was pleased to work on that amendment with Chairman Harkin and plan to do my best to make sure it gets past the finish line.  Moving forward, we need to ensure that those affected by mental illness get the services they need and protections they deserve early, remembering that this population is more often victimized by violence rather than perpetrators of it. Thank you to Mental Health America for this honor."

Luis B. Perez, LCSW, president and CEO of the Mental Health Association of Connecticut, will join Dr. Lindstrom in presenting the award to the Senators.  Mr. Perez commented: "Senators Blumenthal and Murphy have been longtime advocates of services for people with behavioral health needs. This recognition of their leadership is well deserved and I look forward to working with them to achieve significant inroads in the future".

Mental Health America (www.mentalhealthamerica.net), founded in 1909, is the nation's leading community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. With our 240 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in mental health and wellness policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; and delivering urgently needed mental health and wellness Programs and Services.

SOURCE Mental Health America



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