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Didi Hirsch to Hold Virtual 24th Annual Erasing the Stigma Awards to Kick off Fundraising Campaign Through May, Mental Health Awareness Month
April 23, 2020
Awards Honor PEOPLE, Suicide Prevention Advocate Talinda Bennington, and Emmy-Award-Winning News Anchor Christine Devine
Melissa Rivers to Emcee Virtual Event
Culver City, Calif. (April 23, 2020) – PEOPLE, suicide prevention advocate Talinda Bennington, and Emmy-Award-Winning news anchor Christine Devine are being honored at the 24th Annual Erasing the Stigma Awards today. A virtual event, it will be available for viewing online beginning Thursday, April 23, at www.erasingthestigma.org. The video kicks off Didi Hirsch’s Mental Health Services’ Erasing the Stigma Campaign, which will extend throughout May, Mental Health Awareness Month, to raise funds and awareness for Didi Hirsch, a nonprofit that has been serving the community for over 75 years.
From 10 centers and more than 120 schools in Los Angeles and Orange counties, Didi Hirsch provided mental health, substance use and suicide prevention services to nearly 160,000 children and adults nationwide in 2019. Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center is the nation’s first and the most comprehensive. Its services include crisis care, support groups, therapy and training, as well as the development of innovative, research-validated programs.
A key partner of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and one of three agencies designated as a national Disaster Distress Helpline, Didi Hirsch’s crisis lines answered over 130,000 calls, chats and texts last year. Calls regarding the coronavirus have increased from 21 in February to 1,800 in March, with 3,000 calls expected in April. Coronavirus callers’ top concerns are anxiety/stress and health issues, but financial concerns also weigh on them, and suicide was mentioned by 20%. For clients’ and staff safety, the agency provided as many clinical and administrative staff as possible with the resources needed to work remotely. It continues to see crisis clients in person at three community-based clinics, and its three residential treatment programs continue full operations.
“In a pandemic, mental health, substance use and suicide prevention services are considered essential healthcare. Our staff are the unsung heroes of this national crisis,” says Kita S. Curry, PhD, Didi Hirsch’s President and CEO. “In a time when we all are vulnerable, I’m grateful to our 2020 Erasing the Stigma honorees for sharing their stories so anyone who is struggling can feel comfortable reaching out for help.”
As part of its Erasing the Stigma Campaign, Didi Hirsch also launched its STIGMA Handwashing Challenge on social media at #ErasingTheStigma and #StoppingTheSpread to highlight the importance of erasing stigma as people struggle with mental health challenges during the COVID-19 crisis. Didi Hirsch has begun to post videos of its 2020 honorees and other supporters participating in the challenge on its www.erasingthestigma.org website.
PEOPLE, one of the world’s leading entertainment media brands, ranks No. 1 in total brand audience across multiple platforms. The ubiquitous brand recently launched a yearlong mental health initiative: Let’s Talk About It, to encourage readers to have vital conversations about their mental health. Along with highlighting stories of ordinary people and celebrities who have dealt with mental illness, the campaign provides information on where to get help and how to offer support to others. Accepting the Beatrice Stern Media Award on behalf of PEOPLE is Editor-in-Chief, Dan Wakeford. “I am truly honored to accept the Didi Hirsch Erasing the Stigma award on behalf of PEOPLE’s year-long mental health initiative, Let’s Talk About It,” says Mr. Wakeford. “By highlighting stories of people and celebrities who have coped with mental illness, we hope to provide resources and support for anyone in need of help, and to encourage the public to have vital conversations about their mental health.”
Talinda Bennington-Friedman, suicide prevention advocate, is being honored with the Mental Health Ambassador Award. In 2017, Talinda’s husband, Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, died by suicide. To ensure that families are equipped to support loved ones dealing with mental health challenges, Talinda partnered with The Campaign to Change Direction to launch 320 Changes Direction – an effort named in honor of Chester Bennington’s birthday on March 20th. Talinda traveled to Geneva to participate in the World Health Organization’s “40 seconds of action” campaign on World Mental Health Day last year. “I am so honored to be the recipient of the 2020 Mental Health Ambassador Award from Didi Hirsch,” says Ms. Bennington-Friedman. “I could not be more proud of the Didi Hirsch organization and all the opportunities, resources and support groups they provide for families in need, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.”
Christine Devine, a veteran news anchor, is being honored with the Erasing the Stigma Leadership Award. Devine has won 16 Emmys throughout her extensive career and can be seen on Los Angeles’
KTTV’s Fox 11 News. “I’ve known this organization for 20 years and they are a valuable voice and part of the very fabric of Southern California. I am so grateful at a time of crisis to know the team at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services is there, in the community, in OUR community. Thank you to Didi Hirsch for the recognition, and the Leadership Award. I only hope to continue to lead in telling your story,” says Ms. Devine.
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About Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services:
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services transforms lives by providing mental health, substance use and suicide prevention services in communities where poverty or stigma limits access to care. From 10 centers and more than 120 schools throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties, Didi Hirsch helped nearly 160,000 children and adults nationwide in 2019. Didi Hirsch operates outpatient centers and three residential facilities, including Via Avanta, one of the first programs in the nation that allows women struggling with mental illness and substance use to live with their children while in treatment. Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center is the nation’s first and a global resource for healing and hope. It provides crisis counseling for people contemplating suicide and for their friends and relatives; training and education for students, teachers, first responders, mental health professionals and others; and therapy and support groups for people who have survived an attempt or are bereaved by a loss. Learn more at www.didihirsch.org.