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The Center for Public Integrity was recognized Tuesday with a Mental Health America 2023 media award for Christine Herman’s reporting about the challenges families face accessing mental health care. The story was published in partnership with Side Effects Public Media as part of the national Mental Health Parity Collaborative led by the Carter Center’s Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism. 

Herman’s story focused on the lack of affordable, sufficient treatment for kids with significant mental health problems, which has pushed some families to give up custody to get care. It also explored efforts states are making to reform their mental health care systems.

“I first learned about the issue of custody relinquishment to access mental health services as a local reporter in Illinois,” Herman said. “It’s an unbearably heartbreaking issue. We’re talking about parents who are desperate to save their children’s lives and finding themselves faced with incredible obstacles.”

Christine Herman has long brown hair and is wearing a pink blouse.
Christine Herman (WILL staff)

“By highlighting a state that has found a way to solve this problem, my hope is that places that have yet to address this issue can be held accountable for their inaction,” Herman added. “This is not an unsolvable problem, but it does take resources and an incredible amount of coordination between numerous government entities to be successful.”

MHA’s 2023 Media Award recognizes journalists, authors, digital platforms, media outlets, television shows and filmmakers that have tackled the issues of mental illness and addiction — and in doing so, have educated, informed, and broken down stigma and shame around these issues.

Other media award winners include Netflix’s “Untold: Breaking Point”; ABC30 for “A Critical State of Mind,” a five-part documentary series taking a deep look at the state of mental health in California; Renee Shaw, Director of Public Affairs and Moderator at KET, which reported on issues such as opioid addiction and youth mental health; and Morra Aarons-Mele, host of “The Anxious Achiever” podcast. 

Founded in 1989, the Center for Public Integrity is one of the oldest nonprofit news organizations in the country and is dedicated to investigating systems and circumstances that contribute to inequality in the United States.

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