Friedman Honored with Spirit of Compassion Award for Mental Health Advocacy

BOSTON (9/24/2020) – The Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) recently honored Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) with their Spirit of Compassion Award during its 107th Annual – and first ever virtual – Friend and Leader Awards Event. 

This annual event salutes individuals whose work contributes to progress in awareness, health promotion, prevention and effective treatment for children and adults affected by mental health challenges throughout Massachusetts. 

“As a parent of someone with a severe mental illness, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to navigate the mental health care system in Massachusetts,” said Friedman. “I’m honored to be recognized for my commitment to this issue, and I am grateful to MAMH’s continued collaboration and tireless advocacy on behalf of some of the most vulnerable people in our state.”

A longtime champion for improving the state’s mental health care system, Friedman continues to advocate for bills in the Senate that seek to increase access to mental health care and divert individuals with mental illness and substance use disorder away from the criminal justice system. In her award acceptance speech, Friedman said it’s simply “untenable” that there are people who are incarcerated simply because they have a mental illness. 

Most recently, Friedman and Senator Julian Cyr co-led an effort to craft the Senate’s Mental Health Addressing Barriers to Care (ABC) Act – a comprehensive treatment bill that increases access to care by removing barriers to care, providing the state with more effective tools to enforce existing mental health parity laws, and investing in the mental and behavioral health workforce pipeline. 

“We’ve made progress in the Senate this session to advance mental health access with the passage of the Mental Health ABC Act – I hope we can get that bill through the House and onto the Governor’s desk,” said Friedman. “I won’t stop fighting until mental illness is just as important as diabetes, heart disease, and other physical health conditions.”

Friedman represents the 4thMiddlesex district, which includes Arlington, Billerica, Burlington, Woburn and precincts 1-2 and 4-7 in Lexington. 

The Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) convenes stakeholders across the behavioral health and public health community to address policy, budget and legal issues affecting those at risk for or living with behavioral health conditions. MAMH disseminates knowledge emerging from clinical research, program evaluation and innovation developments to inform and activate diverse audiences in the Commonwealth and beyond.