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The National Alliance on Mental Illness of North Carolina announced Wednesday that its statewide 2016 Media Award will go to Carolina Public Press.

“The Media Award is presented to a media representative who, during the course of the year, has actively supported NAMI North Carolina’s mission to support, educate and advocate on behalf of people living with mental illness and their families,” said Carrie Kovalick, NAMI NC’s director of development and communications. The award will be presented on Oct. 8 in Raleigh during the 14th Annual NAMI North Carolina Statewide Conference.

Based in Asheville and covering the 19 westernmost counties of the state, CPP has published in-depth and investigative reports this year relating to mental illness issues.

Managing Editor Frank Taylor conducted an investigation of a company running homes for mentally ill adults that was registered under the name “Nutz R Us.” Taylor also appeared in other media, including a statewide public radio broadcast, to discuss the issue. The company later changed its name.

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Jessica Coates, a UNC-Chapel Hill senior journalism major who interned with CPP this summer, wrote a major report on the complex waves of reform to North Carolina’s mental health care system over the last 15 years.

CPP investigative reporter Michael Gebelein has reported on issues related to addiction policy, including the legalization of needle-sharing programs.

Taylor has also written several articles on the disappearance and death of Felicia Reeves, a disabled veteran from Hendersonville who struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and drug addiction. Reeves’ death, in August 2015, was initially ruled a suicide. However, following a series of CPP reports, a prosecutor’s office in New Jersey has assigned a homicide task force to reexamine the case.

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In July, CPP presented a sold-out public forum at the Asheville campus of Lenoir-Rhyne University on mental health policy in North Carolina. Panelists included Christina Carter, chief operating officer for the Smoky Mountain Managed Care Organization; Sonya Greck, a senior vice president for Behavioral Health, Safety Net, Community Benefit and Project Re:DESIGN at Mission Health System; and Jack Register, executive director of NAMI NC. The forum was part of a series of free, public conversations, called Newsmakers, that seeks to build civic and civil dialogue about the top issues facing Western North Carolina.

“We are very honored by this award and its recognition of the hard work of our news staff,” said Angie Newsome, CPP’s executive director. “We know that mental health issues — from getting quality care to understanding public policy — is a top issue facing our region. We remain dedicated to reporting on these tough and complex issues, which have real, day-to-day impact on our state and its residents.”

Launched in 2011, Carolina Public Press is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan news service providing independent, in-depth and investigative reporting to Western North Carolina. Carolina Public Press is supported by contributions from individuals and foundations, as well sponsorships of its events. To make a contribution, go here. To find out more about sponsorships, please email Tara George at tgeorge@carolinapublicpress.org.

Angie Newsome

Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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