The deadline has passed for the 2022 Mental Health Champions nominations. We’ll announce the 2022 nominees in the spring.

Each year an award recipient is selected from each of the three nomination categories: mental illness, developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders. They are celebrated at the annual Mental Health Champions’ Awards Banquet held in their honor on May 3, 2022 at Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City, MO. During this event, we will celebrate 2021 and 2022 Champions!

Celebrating Resiliency,
Celebrating Our Champions

Featuring keynote speaker
Ross Szabo

Previously reserved for 2020 – due to COVID – he will now be our Keynote our event in May 2022.

Ross was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 16 and was hospitalized for attempting to take his own life during his senior year of high school. He tried to hide what he was feeling to convince everyone that everything was okay, but that can only last for so long. Ross uses tasteful humor and insights to help us understand common mental health conditions and individual differences. He is now the CEO of the Human Power Project, and is an award-winning mental health speaker, writer, trainer and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. He is also the co-author of Behind Happy Faces; Taking Charge of Your Mental Health.

Meet Our 2021 Mental Health Champions

Kailey Reeves

St. Thomas, Missouri

Kailey is a champion and example of resiliency for all individuals living with mental illness. She has been described as the energizer bunny as she continues to push herself to better her life, her family, and the clients she works with daily. She is mentally tough and will move mountains for the clients that she reaches. Kailey has been able to use the struggles she has endured in her life to educate people she meets about the trauma of her own life and inspire them to come to terms with their own mental illness. During the pandemic with everyone working remotely, Kailey built a PowerPoint presentation that was used with clients to help offer support and encouragement. Kailey can offer her perspective without offering judgement. Kailey goes the extra mile for the clients she engages with to find necessary resources and offers every single person the chance to be humanized. And every step of the way, this champion does so with kindness and caring.

Amanda Koch

Washington, Missouri

Amanda has grown in helping inspire others with disabilities. She has been an advocate with many programs. She is a member of the Athlete Leadership Committee and a trained health messenger for the Special Olympics. She has worked with other athletes on spreading the importance of maintaining health and how to participate in community activities that promote a healthy lifestyle. She is a graduate of Project STIR and an advocate leader. During the pandemic, Amanda showed her resilience by organizing her own way using social media – ZOOM and Facebook Live – to spread her message of health and wellness. While she has faced several challenges in her life, she has overcome each one. Amanda never thought she would be able to live independently and yet she has been successful in having her own apartment and job. Amanda was crowned Missouri Miss Amazing Senior 2020 but due to COVID, the nationals were not held. She will be a contestant at this year’s National Miss Amazing Pageant in Nashville Tennessee in July. Amanda is an inspiration to all with her “can do, never quit” attitude.

Dwain Strickland

Belton, Missouri

Dwain began using alcohol at age 12, sneaking into his parents’ liquor cabinet and in Dwain’s own words “This was the beginning and gateway into a deep adventure of heavy drug use, drug dealing, many countless acts of criminal activity that would feed my addiction at any cost.” His recovery journey is a story of resilience and commitment as well as making a positive impact in the community. He and his wife are successfully raising children and Dwain works full time in the maintenance department at Comprehensive Mental Health Services in addition to the work he does in the recovery community where he is very active with Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Dwain answers the NA phone line and chairs meetings for his Grandview home NA Group. He is also a sponsor for several others on their recovery journey. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dwain was able to work with his NA group to adapt to using Zoom so that groups did not discontinue meeting during times where shut-down orders were in place. Dwain is currently the Chair of the Advisory Board for CMHS and through his leadership and lived example he provides encouragement for others in their independence and growth to not letting mental health or substance use be a barrier for a successful, engaged life. Dwain is an advocate, a champion, and an inspiration to all.

2021-2022 Event Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsoring the 2021-2022 Mental Health Champions’ Banquet provides you the opportunity to celebrate success, battle stigma, support a critical issue, connect with the mental health provider community, business community, community resource organizations, and the general public representing communities from across the State of Missouri.

Sponsorship information will be available in early 2022.