News and Announcements

Journalist Shawne Wickham to Be Honored at October Mental Health Benefit Dinner

The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester (MHCGM) is pleased to announce Shawne Wickham as the 2019 recipient of the annual Wheelock-Nardi Advocacy Award.  Shawne has been telling the stories of Granite Staters for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News for more than 30 years. Among the highlights of her career are covering New Hampshire’s Teacher-in-Space Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger tragedy; reporting from Kuwait in 2011 on the New Hampshire Army National Guardsmen who were deployed there; and a field trip to Washington, D.C., with a group of eighth graders from New Hampshire for the inauguration of Barack Obama.

Her most recent assignment was a year-long, grant-funded project exploring solutions to the state’s mental health and substance use challenges. The series was called “Beyond the Stigma.”  Wickham reported on a number of initiatives to address the mental health needs of New Hampshire residents and to break down the stigma that prevents many from seeking and finding recovery.  She reported on the MHCGM’s “mental health first aid” trainings and attended one session geared toward the veterans’ community. She reported on the world’s first orchestra created by and for musicians with mental health challenges, and sat in on local auditions of “This is My Brave,” featuring the inspiring, first-hand stories of individuals who have found recovery from mental health challenges.

She reported on what mental health centers are doing to promote awareness of suicide prevention and talked with the mother of a 12-year-old New Hampshire boy who took his own life.  She spent days with MHCGM’s mobile crisis response team, and tagged along with the Adverse Childhood Experiences Response Team in Manchester, a partnership between police and social service agencies; team members respond after incidents in which children have been exposed to such traumatic events as drug overdoses, domestic violence and other crimes. And she visited with members of a “clubhouse” in Portsmouth where individuals with mental illnesses make friends, practice job skills and find educational and employment support.

Shawne wrote about the human stories behind the headlines regarding the state’s mental health challenges, met with those who work tirelessly every day to make a difference, and offered evidence that there is hope, and healing. Ultimately, Wickham’s stories educated the public regarding the challenges and opportunities associated with mental illness and or substance misuse and also helped to provide a glimpse of the realities that many face in our communities.

The Wheelock-Nardi Advocacy Award is presented to an individual or organization who exemplifies a high standard of commitment and advocacy for those with mental illness.  The award is named in honor of former NH Hospital Superintendent Major Wheelock and former State Representative Theodora Nardi. The pair co-authored the 1982 Wheelock-Nardi Report, which became the blue print for the shift from institutional to community based system of behavioral healthcare in New Hampshire.

Shawne will be honored at the MHCGM’s annual dinner Benefit for Mental Health on Monday October 21st.  For more information on the event or to register, go to Annual Celebration 2019