Mental Health America Honors Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Pete Domenici for Mental Health Leadership
Will Be Presented Paul Wellstone Legacy Awards
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (June 9, 2009)-Mental Health America, celebrating its 100th Anniversary as the founder of the organized mental health movement, will honor Senators Edward M. Kennedy and Pete Domenici for their legendary work on behalf of individuals with mental health conditions at its Centennial Gala on Thursday, June 11, in Washington, D.C.
Kennedy and Domenici will be presented Paul Wellstone Legacy Awards for their lifelong work and commitment to mental health and their leadership in winning passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which was signed into law last year.
"Senators Kennedy and Domenici have been tireless champions on behalf of individuals with mental health conditions," said David L. Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. "Their leadership and courageous efforts resulted in passage of landmark legislation that delivers fundamental justice and improves access to care for millions."
The award is named after the late Senator Paul Wellstone, who championed this issue of mental health parity during his time in the Senate. He firmly believed that equal access to care was at its core a matter of fairness and justice and he never stopped fighting to achieve passage of mental health parity legislation.
As co-author with Senator Domenici of the mental health parity bill, Senator Kennedy rallied the support needed to pass the bill, making personal calls to colleagues even as he prepared to face his own health challenges. In addition to his work on mental health parity, he has a long record of support on other mental health issues. Following the attacks of 9-11, he brought together disaster relief agencies and mental health organizations to collaborate on strategies to help families of victims of the attack and to create a comprehensive mental health response for the nation. He also worked to support 5.3 million American who live with long term disability as a result of traumatic brain injury, including those men and women who have served our nation in uniform, and introduced the Mental Health in Schools Act. Senator Kennedy has been one of the strongest proponents in the nation for comprehensive health care reform, and the inclusion of mental health reform.
Over an outstanding career spanning more than three decades, Senator Domenici, who retired from Congress last year, became not only a leading figure in Congress but a powerful voice for mental health advocacy. Along with Senator Wellstone, he began speaking out about the need for health insurance parity and, in 1996, won passage of a law banning insurance plans that offer mental health coverage from setting lower annual and lifetime spending limits for mental treatments than for physical ailments. In 2001, Senator Domenici and Senator Wellstone co-authored the first parity bill in the Senate. Last October, his vote for the Mental Health Parity Act was one of Senator Domenici's last acts in the U.S. Senate before his retirement, creating a legacy that will be remembered for years to come.
The Gala will be held at Andrew Mellon Auditorium, 1301 Constitution Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C. A general reception begins at 6:30 p.m. and dinner is at 7:30 p.m.
The Gala is part of Mental Health America's Centennial Celebration and Conference, "Forging the Future, Celebrating the Legacy," which is marking a century of achievement and its historic role as the founder of the organized mental health movement in America.
For more information on the Gala and Mental Health America's Centennial Conference, including agenda and speakers, please visit http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/conference.
Celebrating 100 years of mental health education and advocacy, Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping all people live mentally healthier lives. With our more than 300 affiliates nationwide, we represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation-every day and in times of crisis. In 2009, we are marking a century of achievement with a year-long Centennial Observance: "Celebrating the Legacy, Forging the Future."