NAMI Vermont Receives Human & Civil Rights Award

On March 18, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Vermont (NAMI Vermont) was presented with the Human & Civil Rights Award from the Vermont-National Education Association (Vermont-NEA). NAMI Vermont received the award in Category 3: “Awarded to a person or group whose activities have protected, supported, or furthered the human and civil rights of others.”

Certificate with gold trim. Text on page reads "Vermont nea the union of vermont educators human & civil rights award in honor of their community-wide efforts to bring awareness to issues of diversity, social justice, racial equity, and human rights, Vermont-NEA is proud to present the 2023 Human & Civil Rights Award to: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Vermont." Signed by Don Tinney, Vermont-NEA President and dated March 18, 2023

The Vermont-NEA Awards Ceremony took place March 18, 2023, at the Stoweflake Resort in Stowe, VT. Laurie Emerson, Executive Director of NAMI Vermont, accepted the Human & Civil Rights Award on behalf of the organization. At the ceremony, the Vermont-NEA also presented high school students with Maida F. Townsend scholarships and awarded other individuals and organizations for their contributions to education and human rights. 

“We were happy to have the opportunity to honor NAMI Vermont with one of our three Vermont-NEA Human and Civil Rights Awards,” said Don Tinney, President of the Vermont-NEA. “No other group has done more to protect and promote the fundamental rights of those who struggle with mental illness than NAMI. For too long, our sisters and brothers who struggle with mental illness have been marginalized within their own communities and NAMI Vermont has been their champion in bringing conversations about mental illness into the mainstream. Laurie Emerson and her team….have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring their programs to the broader community and to provide support to individuals and their families, so it is an honor to be able to give them the spotlight for just a moment to let them know how much they are appreciated by Vermont educators.” 

This organization has played an integral role in diminishing the stigma of mental illness in society and in schools…. Their commitment to young people and the educators who serve them has been demonstrated with the implementation of their ‘Ending the Silence’ campaign which has been presented in schools across the state…. NAMI Vermont continues to work to make sure that human right [health care] is extended to all those who struggle with mental illness.”

NAMI Vermont demonstrates this commitment both through its free program offerings and advocacy at the state level. On January 30, 2023, NAMI Vermont hosted a virtual Mental Health Advocacy Day in partnership with Vermont Care Partners, and the Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery. This year’s theme was youth mental health, featuring a keynote address by Alexina Federhen, Miss Vermont 2022, who shared her own journey with mental health throughout her adolescence. Over 250 individuals attended the virtual event in support of mental health advocacy.

To support students and schools, NAMI Vermont offers a program called NAMI Ending the Silence. In this program, two trained presenters share information about youth mental health and their own stories of their personal mental health journeys. Presentations are available for middle and high school students, parents/guardians of students, and school staff.

We are honored to receive this award and are grateful to the Vermont-NEA for their recognition of NAMI Vermont’s work.