Mental Health America (MHA) announced that the recipient of its 2020 Clifford W. Beers Award is mental health advocate and General Hospital star Maurice Benard (Sonny Corinthos). The esteemed award is the organization's highest honor and is presented annually to an individual with the lived experience of mental illness who best reflects the example set by MHA founder Clifford W. Beers in their efforts to improve conditions for and attitudes toward people living with mental health conditions.
As many soap fans know, Benard was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 22 and was institutionalized twice. His experiences led him to become a mental health advocate, and he has since been very public about his diagnosis and struggles, using his public platform to educate his fans about mental illness. He has worked with multiple mental health organizations over the last two decades, including MHA, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He has also collaborated with the writers of General Hospital to incorporate his diagnosis into Sonny's storyline, thereby elevating the conversation and showing viewers the realities of the illness.
In early 2020, Benard published his memoir Nothing General About It: How Love and Lithium Saved Me On and Off General Hospital, and he currently runs an Instagram Live series called State of Mind that discusses mental health and the actor's personal journey.
"Such an honor to receive this award from such a classy organization," Benard tweeted about receiving the Clifford W. Beers Award from MHA. "The goal has always been the same: help people with mental health!"
Thank you,Such an honor to receive this award from such a classy organization. The goal has Always been the same help people with mental health! @HarperCollins @WmMorrowBooks @TheWordGirl1 https://t.co/9uIl8xM4tW- Maurice Benard (@MauriceBenard) June 24, 2020
Founded in 1909 by Clifford W. Beers, Mental Health America is the nation's leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all. MHA's work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; and integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them, with recovery as the goal. During his stays in public and private institutions, Beers witnessed and was subjected to horrible abuse. From these experiences, Beers set into motion a reform movement that took shape and is known today as Mental Health America.
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