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About the Voice Awards

The Voice Awards program honors consumer/peer leaders and television and film professionals who inform the public about behavioral health. 

What Are the Voice Awards?

The annual Voice Awards program honors consumer/peer leaders in recovery from mental and/or substance use disorders. These leaders play a vital role in raising awareness and understanding of behavioral health issues. They are sharing their stories of resilience and recovery to reduce the discrimination and misperceptions associated with behavioral health conditions.

The awards program also recognizes television and film writers and producers who give a voice to people with mental and/or substance use disorders. They incorporate dignified, respectful, and accurate portrayals of these individuals into their scripts, programs, and productions. Through their work, audiences can experience the stories of people with behavioral health challenges and embrace the hope and promise of recovery from these conditions.

Together, these two groups of leaders demonstrate that people with mental and/or substance use disorders can and do recover, lead meaningful lives, and contribute to their communities.

The Voice Awards program is sponsored by the SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The awards program broadly defines “consumer/peer leader” as a person who has received or is receiving services for a mental and/or substance use disorder.

Judging and Criteria

Consumer/Peer Leaders

Nominated consumer/peer leaders are evaluated based on their outstanding contributions in all of the following areas:

  • Personally demonstrated that recovery is real and possible
  • Led efforts to reduce the discrimination and misperceptions associated with behavioral health conditions
  • Made a positive impact on communities, workplaces, or schools

All nominees are reviewed by a panel of judges that includes consumer/peer leaders in recovery from mental and/or substance use disorders, behavioral health advocates, HHS representatives, and communication professionals.

Television and Film Professionals

Television and film production nominees are evaluated using the following questions:

  • Are people with behavioral health conditions central to the plot or outcome of the story?
  • Does the production specifically discuss behavioral health issues (diagnoses/conditions, symptoms, needs, treatment) or the journey of recovery?
  • Are people with behavioral health conditions talked about and depicted respectfully in their interactions with others?
  • Does the production portray people with behavioral health conditions and their recovery journeys in a dignified and respectful way?
  • Does the production convey a sense of optimism about the possibility of recovery from behavioral health conditions?
  • Do the people with behavioral health conditions have a positive impact on their community, family, workplace, school, and/or other area of life?
  • Does the production promote understanding and acceptance of people with behavioral health conditions?

Nominated productions do not need to reflect every element to receive an award. However, the highest ratings are reserved for those productions that emphasize the positive journey of recovery from behavioral health conditions.

All nominees are reviewed by a panel of judges that includes:

  • Entertainment industry professionals
  • Television and film writers and producers
  • Consumer/peer leaders in recovery from mental and/or substance use disorders
  • Behavioral health advocates
  • HHS representatives
  • Other Voice Awards program partners
Last Updated: 06/14/2016