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Vermont Law School and Partners Receive Mental Health Award

February 23, 2010

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT -- Vermont Public Television, in collaboration with Vermont Law School, the University of Vermont College of Medicine and the Vermont office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will receive a 2010 EDGE Award from the Association of Public Television Stations for the "Minds on the Edge: Facing Mental Illness" project.

The EDGE Awards are presented annually to public television stations that use digital technology, groundbreaking partnerships and educational technologies to deliver innovative services to their communities.

The "Minds on the Edge" project included television broadcasts, a legal symposium and Web-based and on-the-ground community meetings as part of a month-long campaign in October 2009 to raise public awareness about the challenges, solutions and impact of mental illness on Vermont communities.

The project kicked off with a national broadcast of a "Minds on the Edge" seminar, which featured Dr. Tom Simpatico from the UVM College of Medicine.

Vermont Law School then hosted a workshop to inform state legislators about mental health issues in Vermont. VLS Professor Oliver Goodenough said the event included cutting-edge scientific presentations on the neuroscience of addiction and mental illness. The workshop provided a neutral, academic forum to explore solutions to problems that involve the collision of good intentions on questions of treatment, public and individual safety and liberty, he said.

"Mental health issues are at the heart of many of our most difficult challenges in law," Goodenough said. "We were pleased to be able to be a part of this important initiative and to help our legislature grapple with these thorny problems. The ‘Minds on the Edge' program was very successful in getting a conversation going among the contending advocates on questions of treatment and the rights of both the individuals involved and society as a whole. Once a conversation is started, then new knowledge, such as the developments of neuroscience, can be used productively to inform public policy."

The campaign continued with five public screenings of "Minds on the Edge" around Vermont at town hall forums that brought legislators and community members together to form action plans. The online part of the campaign included the production and posting of "Vermont Stories," which were videos featuring people whose lives have been affected by mental illness. VPT produced a community service spot, called "VPT and You," which focused on defusing the stigma attached to mental illness. The campaign culminated with "VPT Public Square," a monthly call-in broadcast that looked at current mental health services and ways that Vermont can increase awareness and improve care.
The project is available at

CONTACT: John Cramer, Associate Director of Media Relations


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