NAMI honors journalist Bill Lichtenstein for exposing use of restraints and seclusion in schools nationwide and fueling efforts to end them
For immediate release— Cambridge, MA — The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Advisory Committee on Restraints and Seclusion will honor Bill Lichtenstein, a Peabody Award-winning journalist and documentary producer, with its 2016 Gloria Huntley Award.
The annual award recognizes an individual or organization that has made significant strides in reducing the use of restraints and seclusion in the treatment of mental illness.
Lichtenstein is a former ABC News investigative producer and president of the independent media production company Lichtenstein Creative Media. His work focusing on mental health followed his own diagnosis and recovery from bipolar disorder in 1986.
Most recently, Lichtenstein’s reporting exposed the widespread use and harm caused by physical restraints and seclusion rooms in schools across the country with children as young as three years-old. Lichtenstein first learned about the practice when he discovered that his own five-year-old daughter had been locked in an isolation room almost daily, for up to an hour at a time, over a three month period in a Lexington, Mass. public kindergarten.
“The widespread use of restraints and seclusion in schools is a problem few in the public knew about until Bill's Sunday New York Times article in 2012 exposed and sparked a national debate about these practices. Bill continued on with articles, social media, educational videos, and a national action group of stakeholders that made a critical impact in public awareness and efforts to outlaw their use with kids,” said NAMI member Amy Peterson in her nomination of Lichtenstein for the award.
Lichtenstein has received more than 60 journalism honors including a Peabody Award; United Nations Media Award; Guggenheim Fellowship; eight National Headliner Awards; and three National News Emmy Award nominations. He has written for The New York Times, The Nation, Village Voice, Boston Globe and Huffington Post, among others.
Previous winners of the Gloria Huntley Award include Senator Tom Harkin, Congressman George Miller, attorney and advocate Elyn W. Saks, and the Mass. Department of Mental Health Child/Adolescent Restraint Prevention Team.
The award will be presented on July 8 at NAMI's annual national convention in Denver, Colorado. The award is named for Gloria Huntley who died after being restrained at Central State Hospital in Virginia in 1996. Her death led to Congressional hearings, legislation and regulatory reforms.