It was an emotional evening for the Child Mind Institute as we celebrated our fifth anniversary last night at the annual Child Advocacy Award Dinner at Cipriani 42nd Street. The evening’s honors went to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who received the Child Advocacy Award, and Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, who accepted the Distinguished Scientist Award.

Both Secretary Clinton and Dr. Insel warmly supported the work the Child Mind Institute does, and Ben Shapiro, a 17-year-old with OCD who was treated at CMI, got a standing ovation for sharing his personal story. Ben described the therapy with Dr. Jerry Bubrick. “Jerry was the guy who rescued me, who got me back to school, back to friends, and back to the basic joys in life.” Ben ended with this appeal:

You have an opportunity to help kids get out of the same black hole I was in, to get their lives back. You can determine whether or not the next anxious child will be a cautionary tale or have a happy ending. So ladies and gentlemen, I implore you to give generously. Because quite frankly, I want other kids to be as lucky as I was—to be able to get past their worst day and join me on the other side.

The auction, led by Lydia Fenet of Christie’s, raised over $715,000 for scholarships for clinical care at CMI, to raise the evening’s total to $6.63 million.

Dr. Insel, the evening’s first honoree, applauded the Child Mind Institute’s focus on “making sure we not only provide better service today, but that we do the science that will allow us to provide better service tomorrow—and doing that in an open science framework, where everything is sharable accessible and quickly gets disseminated to as many people as possible.”

Dr. Insel saluted the Child Mind Institute’s Healthy Brain Network for “taking the lead in helping us to understand, as a nation, how these problems begin, how we can detect them earlier, and intervene more effectively.” CMI, he said, “is setting the standard and changing the culture of how we to do research.”

Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Ben Shapiro, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Harold S. Koplewicz
Secretary Clinton saluted the efforts of Harold Koplewicz and Brooke Garber Neidich, Child Mind Institute’s co-founders, to fight the stigma that still surrounds mental illness. She told a story about the daughter of a friend who was being treated at the Child Mind Institute, who said to her mother: “If I had cancer and I was getting better everybody would be so happy for me. I am getting better, because I now know more about what to do, and I’m getting the help I need, but no one is celebrating that.”

Clinton, whose foundation Too Small to Fail also focuses on early childhood development, closed with this:

We need to help the Child Mind Institute draw attention to the mental health needs of our kids, fight to remove the stigmas that keep them in the shadows, and speak up for those parents working their hearts out to get their children the care they need. We need to honor the dedicated professionals exploring the frontiers of brain science and providing cutting-edge clinical care, and keep asking ourselves what more we as cities, states, and our nation can do to continue giving hope to so many who need it.