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Mental Health Association to Honor Its ‘Heroes of Hope’

Authors Steve Lopez and Elyn Saks will be the guests of honor at Friday's event

The Mental Health Association in Santa Barbara County will host its Heroes of Hope Awards this Friday, honoring several advocates and authors who have contributed significantly to removing the stigma of mental illness.

Steve Lopez
Steve Lopez

The event, at the Lobero Theatre, will serve as a benefit for the MHA, a nonprofit organization providing support to those affected by severe mental illness.

Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times columnist and author of The Soloist, will be one of the honorees.

His book focuses on a homeless man, Nathaniel Ayers, dwelling on Skid Row, and whose schizophrenia has derailed his dreams of being a renowned classical musician.

Elyn Saks, an associate dean and professor of law, psychology, psychiatry and the behavioral sciences at USC, also will be honored at Friday’s event.

In Saks’ book, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, she discusses her personal struggle with paranoia and her road to overcoming mental illness.

Attendees to Friday’s event will be privy to a special screening of the newly released documentary No Kidding, Me Too by Joe Pantoliano, an Emmy-award winning actor and producer. Pantoliano received the Heroes of Hope Award in 2008.

“Our honorees play a pivotal role in educating the community and breaking down the misconceptions,” MHA Executive Director Annmarie Cameron said.

Elyn Saks
Elyn Saks

In spite of the work to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness, she said, it still exists, and often keeps people from avoiding treatment.

“The stigma that surrounds mental illness can be far more destructive and debilitating than the illness itself,” she said.

The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a pre-event cocktail reception and musical performance by recording artist Lisbeth Scott. The awards program will follow at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $150. Click here or call 805.884.8440 to purchase tickets online or for more information.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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