Judy Collins, Paul Dalio and Anna Akana will be honored at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services’ 2017 Erasing the Stigma Leadership Awards, Melissa Rivers to emcee

Media Contact:
Rona Menashe
Executive Vice President
Guttman Associates

For Immediate Release

Judy Collins, Paul Dalio and Anna Akana
will be honored at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services’
2017 Erasing the Stigma Leadership Awards
Melissa Rivers to emcee

Culver City, Calif. (March 9, 2017) – Music icon Judy Collins, “Touched With Fire” writer/director Paul Dalio, and actress/filmmaker Anna Akana, will be honored at the 21st Anniversary Erasing the Stigma Leadership Awards on Thursday, April 27.

Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, which is celebrating 75 years of service to the community, will confer the honors at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  The event, which will be emceed by entertainment journalist, producer and author Melissa Rivers, is expected to raise over a half million dollars for Didi Hirsch, a leading non-profit provider of free community mental health and substance use services for children and adults. The agency is also home to the nation’s first Suicide Prevention Center, a national leader in training, research and services.

Singer/Songwriter/Author/Activist Judy Collins, whose son, Clark, died by suicide in 1992 and who herself struggled with substance use and mental illness, will receive the 2017 Beatrice Stern Media Award for her passionate efforts to raise awareness about suicide and mental illness.

“Back when alcoholism, depression, bulimia and suicide were rarely discussed, Judy let others know they weren’t alone,” says Didi Hirsch’s President/CEO Dr. Kita S. Curry, PhD.  “Through her books, music and public appearances, she has continued her advocacy for decades.  We are proud to honor her for all she’s done to replace shame with hope and increase support for mental health care.”

Writer/Director/Composer Paul Dalio, whose feature film debut, “Touched With Fire,” was inspired by his own experience, will receive a Leadership Award.  Through the story of two young poets who fall in love while hospitalized with bipolar disorder, the film explores the relationship between illness and creativity.  It takes its title from a book of the
same name by author and former Erasing the Stigma honoree, Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, who has a cameo in the film.

 “While many films look at mental illness through the eyes of friends and family, ‘Touched With Fire’ gives us a remarkably honest portrayal of bipolar disorder through the eyes of someone who actually lives with it,” Dr. Curry said. “With this film, Paul has helped to erase stigma and encouraged a deeper understanding of the strengths and challenges of people living with bipolar disorder.”

Actress/Producer/Filmmaker/Writer Anna Akana will be honored as Didi Hirsch’s Mental Health Ambassador for using her popular YouTube channel to promote awareness about mental illness.  After the suicide of her 13-year-old sister, Kristina, who was a victim of bullying, Anna wrote and starred in “Riley Rewind.” A digital series about a high school student who travels back in time to prevent a classmate’s suicide, it garnered over 25 million views across YouTube, Facebook and Netflix.

“By speaking openly and honestly about her loss, Anna taught the most vulnerable members of her young audience that it is okay to talk about suicide and seek help,” Dr. Curry said. “For her many videos and posts about the impact of suicide and her own search for the best treatment for depression, we are thrilled to make Anna our Mental Health Ambassador.”

Melissa Rivers, Entertainment Journalist/Producer/Author, will serve as the evening’s emcee. Melissa, who was a college student when her father, television producer Edgar Rosenberg died by suicide, has been a suicide prevention advocate for many years. She received the Beatrice Stern Media Award at Didi Hirsch’s 2016 Erasing the Stigma Leadership Awards.

For additional information or to purchase tickets, please go to www.erasingthestigma.org or call (310) 659-5517.  To see a highlight reel of past events, go to https://youtu.be/fw8NusHc5Xw

About Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services

Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services has been a leading provider of community mental health and substance use services since 1942. Dedicated to serving communities where stigma or poverty limits access, Didi Hirsch helps more than 90,000 children and adults each year from 11 locations and 100 schools throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties.

The nation’s first, Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center is a leader in training, research and services. We help people contemplating suicide, concerned loved ones and those who have attempted or are grieving a loss. Our multilingual crisis line answered nearly 87,000 calls/chats/texts nationwide in 2016 and is one of three that takes calls for the national Disaster Distress Helpline. Learn more at www.didihirsch.org.