The 2019 Social Impact Awards Luncheon opened to audience laughter when emcee Jay Styles took the stage and introduced his special brand of comedy. A WSHE Chicago radio host and suicide survivor, Styles also lives with depression and borderline personality disorder, and often uses humor to talk about these topics, which so many find difficult to discuss.
“It’s time to talk out loud about mental health,” Jay believes. “Stigma is the biggest issue.”
In addition to the honorees, the luncheon featured a bevy of speakers, including TCSPP President Dr. Michele Nealon, Chicago Campus Dean Dr. Margie Martyn, and student speakers Caitlin Cox, Tameer Siddiqui and Ben Wegner. Many of the speakers stressed the importance of speaking up about mental illnesses, the need for increased mental health awareness and for better access to services for all. Launched in 2018 to honor advocates who work to make a positive impact on mental health in the Chicago community, the Social Impact Awards this year recognized Dan Bigg (posthumously), Dr. Armand Cerbone and Captain Jeffrey A. Coady.
Dan Bigg, founder of the Chicago Recovery Alliance and a pioneer in the harm reduction movement, was honored for among other reasons, helping to save thousands of lives with his determination to reduce the shame and stigma surrounding addiction and overdoses, and minimize the harm of the negative effects of addiction.
Dr. Cerbone, a leader in comprehensive psychological care whose outstanding work includes advocating and developing guidelines for mental health and LGBTQ issues, said of the honor, “I have done no more than change what I could within my sphere of influence… I accept this honor as recognition of the many who have done, are continuing to do, and will do more to bring justice, respect and equity to all.”
The Chicago School also recognized Captain Jeffrey A. Coady, a TCSPP alum, as an honoree for the work he does as Region 5 Administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In his role, he reduces the impact of mental illness and substance use disorder in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and 34 Federally-recognized Tribes.
Nearly 170 people helped The Chicago School celebrate the honorees and the impact they have made. Proceeds from the event will benefit TCSPP’s Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute for Mental Health Education and scholarships for Chicago Campus continuing students.