By Paul Gionfriddo, Mental Health America President/CEO
I was sitting at home doing some writing two years ago when I turned on the noontime news. There was only a small news item at first – there had been a shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in Newtown, and there were at least a couple of confirmed casualties.
It hit home for me, because of my Connecticut roots, and I began to pay close attention. As the next few hours unfolded and the extent of the tragedy became known, I was shocked and horrified by what I learned.
I was sitting at my desk when the news broke on Friday afternoon that a fifteen year old student at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington had opened fire in the school cafeteria, killing at least one other student before taking his own life as well.
Another fourteen year old died over the weekend, bringing the death toll to three – all young teenagers.
Patrick Hendry, Senior Director for Consumer Advocacy at Mental Health America, was presented the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Reintegration Lifetime Achievement award at its Annual Conference this past week.
The award, which is supported by Eli Lilly and Company, recognizes a mental health leader and champion who has devoted his/her life to helping persons with mental illness recover; achieve their goals; and live full, productive lives in the community.
Hendry is generously donating the $10,000 cash prize that accompanies the award to Mental Health America.
The nation must build on the attention given mental health that has followed the Newtown tragedy by deploying a public health response and implementing scientific advances that can prevent, identify and effectively treat mental illnesses, leaders of Mental Health America assert in the March issue of the journal Health Affairs.