ABC Family actor represents NASW at Voice Awards in Los Angeles

NASW had a special representative at the Voice Awards in Los Angeles on Aug. 13 — Hayden Byerly, teen actor on “The Fosters” on ABC Family.

Actor Hayden Byerly with past NASW President Suzanne Dworak-Peck

Actor Hayden Byerly, left, with past NASW President Suzanne Dworak-Peck at the SAMHSA Voice Awards in Los Angeles

Byerly, 13, portrays Jude Jacob on the drama series, which is now in its second season. Jude is a foster child who fled an abusive home and is eventually adopted by the Fosters, a lesbian couple.

Byerly gave NASW a special shout-out during the award ceremony, which was held at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

“I would like to thank the National Association of Social Workers, who arranged my appearance,” said Byerly, who, along with “Parenthood” actor Tyree Brown, 10, presented the final award of the night to the TV program “Mike and Molly” for an episode that focused on mental health.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Voice Awards go to individuals who help people living with mental illnesses and addictions and to TV shows and movies that help educate the public about mental health and addiction issues.

NASW is a partner in the awards, along with 17 other organizations. NASW Associate Counsel Elizabeth Felton, JD, MSW, was one of this year’s Voice Award judges.

Award recipients include Lifetime Achievement Award winner Jean Campbell, Ph.D., a woman who overcame a mental illness to become a renowned mental health researcher at the University of Missouri; Career Achievement Award winner Jason Katims, a television writer, producer and playwright best known for NBC’s “Parenthood” and “Friday Night Lights,” and the documentary “Home,” by filmmaker Jono Oliver, the son of two New York City social workers.

The death of comedian and actor Robin Williams just two days before the award show overshadowed the event, with some of the actors and officials commenting on his death. Williams, who had battled depression and substance abuse at times, committed suicide Aug. 11.

Social worker and Rear Adm. Peter Delany, Ph.D., LCSW-C, who is director of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, hosted the Voice Awards and welcomed attendees. Delany said Williams’ death points out the need for the public to keep discussing mental health and addiction so more people will seek treatment.

And actress Kristen Johnston, who starred on “3rd Rock from the Sun,” said it shouldn’t take a celebrity’s demise for the public to put attention on these issues.

“We need to stop focusing on the entertainment (industry) like it’s only a problem that we have,” she said.

Read more about the 2014 Voice Awards and Hayden Byerly at Social Workers Speak.