Culver City Observer -

Erasing the Stigma Leadership Awards to be Presented


New York Times bestselling authors David Sheff and Nic Sheff, the NFL Players Association, Inc., filmmaker William "Michael" Barbee, and Youtube music sensation Alex Boyé will be honored at the 23rd Anniversary Erasing the Stigma Leadership Awards on Thursday, April 25, 2019.

Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, based in Culver City, is a nonprofit which has provided free mental health, substance use and suicide prevention services for over 75 years, will confer the honors at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The fundraising event supports Didi Hirsch, which helps thousands of families each year from 10 locations and nearly 100 schools throughout Southern California. Didi Hirsch is also home to the nation's first Suicide Prevention Center, which recently relocated to Century City.

David Sheff and his son, Nic Sheff, are both authors whose memoirs about their family's devastating experience with substance use disorders inspired the feature film Beautiful Boy, starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet. David's Amazon Book of the Year Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction provided the film's title and helped launch him as an advocate for families struggling with substance use disorder.

NicR17;s New York Times bestselling memoir Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines provided additional source material for the film and is one of two books he has written about his experience recovering from an addiction to methamphetamines. David and Nic also collaborated on High: Everything You Want to Know About Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction, which was published in January 2019 and is a resource for middle-school readers about the realities of drug and alcohol addictions.

David Sheff and Nic Sheff will both receive the 2019 Beatrice Stern Media Award for all they have done to raise awareness about substance use. "Despite everything we know about substance use disorder, many people still regard alcohol and drug addictions as moral failings rather than illnesses like depression or diabetes. With their memoirs, articles and advocacy efforts, David and Nic have helped erase the stigma of substance use disorder, making it easier for people who are struggling and those who love them to seek treatment and support," says Didi Hirsch's President/CEO Dr. Kita S. Curry.

The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the union for professional football players in the National Football League, has launched a number of initiatives to address whole health, including the mental health, of players and their families. It created "Your Mind, Your Body, Your Health," an online forum that debunks myths and encourages an open dialogue on issues such as depression and suicide. It also created several videos that brought together players and spouses to discuss their experience with depression, the stigma of mental illness in professional football, and other topics to improve the health and safety of players and to let them and their fans know they are not alone. "We are thrilled to honor the NFL Players Association with a Leadership Award for making mental disorders as much of a priority as sports injuries. The NFLPA's efforts to erase the stigma of mental illness have set a great example for football players and fans-especially men who often don't feel comfortable reaching out for help," Dr. Curry says.

William "Michael" Barbee is an entrepreneur, mental health advocate and producer/writer/director of Beyond the Silence, a movie about how people are often incarcerated instead of treated for mental illness. Michael, who credits treatment for his recovery from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and a suicide attempt at age 20, is passionate about helping others with mental illness. He makes a point of hiring employees who live with mental illness and created a nonprofit arm of his transportation company to help people with mental illness get to their counseling appointments. He has written two books with mental health themes, serves on the Mental Health Association of Essex County Board of Directors and was honored at the 2013 Governor's Council on Mental Health. "His success proves that mental illness is treatable and need not limit one's future. As a businessman, his enlightened hiring practices show others in the business community that people with mental illness can and do make valuable contributions," Dr. Curry says.

Alex Boyé is a multicultural musical artist who has shared the stage with the likes of Jay-Z, Tim McGraw and Justin Timberlake and is passionate about spreading messages of hope and light through his music-especially to people struggling with mental illness. The video for his single "Bend Not Break," which was produced by American Idol judge Randy Jackson, included hundreds of residents of Herriman, Utah, a community which grieved the loss of several teens to suicide in one year. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention featured the video in its campaign during National Suicide Prevention Month last year. Boyé performed at Didi Hirsch's Alive & Running 5K Walk/Run for Suicide Prevention in 2018. He will receive Didi Hirsch's Mental Health Ambassador Award. "Alex's inspiring songs open up meaningful conversations about mental illness and suicide. He invites fans to share their stories on his YouTube channel and posts the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number so they know where to go for help. He is truly a mental health ambassador."

For additional information or to purchase tickets, please go to or call (310) 659-5517. To see a highlight reel of past events, go to

About Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services:

Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services is one of the nation's leading providers of community mental health, substance use and suicide prevention services. Dedicated to serving communities where stigma or poverty limits access, the agency has been transforming lives for more than 75 years through its innovative and comprehensive approach to care. Today, Didi Hirsch helps over 120,000 adults and children annually from 10 locations and nearly 100 schools in Southern California.

Didi Hirsch's 60-year-old Suicide Prevention Center – the first and most comprehensive in the United States-celebrated the grand opening of its new home in Century City in February 2019. The standalone building nearly doubles the number of people answering its 24/7 multilingual Crisis Line, a key member of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and offers individual and family therapy for those who need more help than support groups can provide. Each year, the Center trains over 10,000 students, teachers faith-based groups, business people and first responders how to recognize and respond to warning signs. It is also developing certified training for mental health professionals to build a larger network of therapists who know how to aid people in a suicidal crisis. Learn more at

For more information, please go to


Reader Comments(0)


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2022

Rendered 01/17/2023 13:02