The American Psychiatric Excellence Awards

Honoring Outstanding Achievements in Mental Health Advocacy

APA and the APA Foundation honored federal lawmakers, a journalist and a mental health activist Friday at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., during the second annual American Psychiatric Excellent (APEX) awards. Roughly 240 people attended the awards luncheon.

The APEX awards celebrated those who have demonstrated the highest levels of mental health advocacy, working to improve mental health care and support all those affected by mental health and substance use disorders.

The APEX Award recipients included:

  • U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), co-sponsored the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act, which was enacted in 2016 and requires Health and Human Services to report on technology-enabled collaborative leaning and capacity building models. He is a lead sponsor of the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act, endorsed by the APA, which would promote cost savings and quality care in Medicare through telemedicine, including telepsychiatry, and remote patient monitoring services.
  • U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), believes that high-quality, affordable health care should be available to every American. She worked to ensure that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) promoted comprehensive coverage for women, including maternity care, and she supported provisions that lower the cost of prescription drugs for seniors. She also made mental health parity in the law a top priority. In 2014 she successfully passed legislation that included language based on her Excellence in Mental Health Act, which provides funding for an expansion of mental health services. Sen. Stabenow has used her position on the Senate Finance Committee to highlight the benefits of the ACA, which has helped 2.8 million Americans with substance use disorders and 1.6 million Americans with serious mental illness gain access to treatment and services through the Medicaid expansion.
  • Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico) was elected as Puerto Rico's sole Representative to the U.S. Congress in November 2016, the first woman ever to hold the office. As Puerto Rico's representative in Congress, she helped secure $36.5 billion in disaster aid for Puerto Rico and several states affected by recent natural disasters. Disasters like Hurricane Maria can have tremendous psychological impacts, both immediately and for years to come.
  • Kathryn (Kate) Farinholt is the Executive Director of NAMI Maryland (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Nearly 30 years ago, NAMI was instrumental in assisting her parents to advocate for a relative with severe mental illness. In 1997, Farinholt was recruited to be a local and state NAMI board member, and she became the Executive Director of NAMI Maryland in 2011. Farinholt has been a national trainer for several NAMI programs and the national NAMI Leadership Institute, and has developed nationally recognized resource materials, including the book "Beyond Punishment: Helping Individuals with Mental Illness Navigate Maryland's Criminal Justice System." She worked on the development of the NAMI model and training for both the NAMI Family Support Group and NAMI Connection (consumer support group) and was the lead national trainer for the NAMI Family Support Group program. Farinholt also co-developed the "NAMI In Our Own Voice: Living with Mental Illness" training for speakers with lived experience of mental illness, available in all 50 states and beyond.
  • Eric Eyre is a statehouse reporter for the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette-Mail. He joined the Gazette-Mail in 1998, and has covered education, health and business for the newspaper. In 2017, Eyre won the Pulitzer Prize for his investigative reporting on how millions of opioid pills were distributed in West Virginia. Eyre's work has won several other national awards, including the Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE) Medal, Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize in Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, National Headliners Award, Society of American Business Editors and Writers award, Gerald Loeb Award for business writing, and an Association of Health Care Journalists award. He also was the recipient of a Kaiser Family Foundation fellowship. His investigative stories have mostly spotlighted issues in rural West Virginia communities. A native of Broad Axe, Pa., Eyre graduated from Loyola University of New Orleans and received a master's degree from the University of South Florida while on a Poynter Fund Fellowship.