NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mental Health America (MHA) has announced the 2021 recipients of the national organization’s annual awards, and Tennessee nonprofits are taking home some impressive hardware.

Mental Health America of the MidSouth, based in Nashville, is bringing home MHA’s 2021 Betty Humphrey Equity Champion Award, created in honor of Dr. Betty Humphrey, a tireless advocate for culturally competent mental health care. The award is given to an individual or organization for demonstrating an ongoing commitment to the fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion, recognizing those who advance the intersectionality of mental health as it relates to discrimination, poverty, stigma, racism, and overall social and economic determinants of health.

Mental Health America Award

For more than 20 years, Mental Health America of the MidSouth has offered the Multicultural Outreach Program (MOP), which started by providing mental health education and programs in Spanish and expanded to offer mental health supports in Somali, Kurdish, and other languages. Today, this remains one of the only programs in the southern U.S. that provides regular mental health programs for non-English speakers, having developed two new curricula: one to train interpreters and another to teach mental health providers to work with interpreters, both aimed at improving culturally competent care. The local organization’s MOP program most recently has grown, adding programs to help foreign-born nationals recover from human trafficking, to assist in case management for unaccompanied minors, and to host a monthly gathering of Nashville leaders in order to promote culturally responsive mental health services throughout Middle Tennessee.

“MHA of the MidSouth is honored to be recognized among our peers for our work in multicultural outreach,” said Tom Starling, Ed.D., President and CEO at Mental Health America of the MidSouth. “Providing resources for these vulnerable individuals is key to our mission and to reducing stigmas and cultural barriers.”

The Behavioral Health Foundation, a data-driven nonprofit policy center also based in Nashville, is the other local nonprofit accepting a major national MHA award this year. Elliot Pinsly, Behavioral Health Foundation President & CEO, will be accepting MHA’s 2021 George Goodman Brudney and Ruth P. Brudney Social Work Award, which recognizes significant contributions made to improve the care and treatment of people with lived mental health experience by practicing professionals in the field of social work.

Elliot Pinsly, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and native Nashvillian, is a passionate leader in mental health policy and strategic advocacy who has helped to develop innovative and effective behavioral health programs serving countless Tennesseans. Elliot has been instrumental in the expansion of crisis walk-in centers, pre-arrest diversion and deflection programming, emergency mental health transportation reform, insurance parity enforcement, and mental health awareness. Working hand-in-hand with fellow social workers, behavioral health providers, judges, advocacy organizations, law enforcement, hospitals, legislators, government officials, and concerned citizens, Elliot Pinsly and the Behavioral Health Foundation continue helping to create meaningful changes to systems and policies that improve the lives of individuals with lived mental health experience.

“Thank you so much to Mental Health America for this incredible honor,” said Elliot Pinsly, President & CEO at the Behavioral Health Foundation. “The profession of social work requires that we not only do the work in front of us but also go above and beyond to advocate for social justice and systems change. We must continue working together, across all professions, to ensure everyone has access to high quality care whenever and wherever they may need it.”

All awards will be distributed during MHA’s Annual Conference, titled “Resiliency to Recovery,” taking place June 10-12 in Washington, DC.