CRANSTON, R.I. - September 27, 2007 - Dr. Fredric Friedman, Director of Behavioral Health for the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, became the first corrections professional to be presented with a Heroes in the Fight award by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (Rhode Island) earlier this month. Heroes in the Fight is a recognition partnership program established and sponsored by Eli Lilly & Co. to celebrate dignity, courage, hope, and recovery in the ongoing treatment of persons with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI) by recognizing "heroes" who provide care and support for these individuals and their families.
Corrections Director Ashbel T. Wall II notes, "We are extremely proud of Fred for having been nominated for and received this award. Very often the work of those in the mental health professions goes unseen, and that is even truer behind prison walls where 16 percent of our inmates are taking medications for a diagnosed mental illness. Fred's ongoing dedication to an underserved and often forgotten population truly makes him a 'hero in the fight' in our eyes."
Chaz Gross, Executive Director of NAMI Rhode Island adds, "Fred is someone I respect a great deal and one of the real cornerstones of the behavioral health system here in Rhode Island." According to Gross, the Heroes in the Fight awards program began in 2005 and has had approximately 65 recipients nationwide.
Overseeing a staff of four psychologists, ten clinical social workers, eight psychiatrists, and the substance abuse treatment programs, Dr. Friedman represents the Department of Corrections on many committees within the community and is active in statewide reentry initiatives. He has spent most of his 35-year career in the public sector helping those with severe and persistent mental illness while providing guidance and support to their families and caregivers. While at the RIDOC, he has continued to fight to improve the care of people in the community by working with community partners to develop alternatives to incarceration for the mentally ill. When people with mental illness do come into the correctional system, Dr. Friedman works to ensure that their needs for safety and continuity of care are met.
President of the Independent Living Authority for over 25 years, Dr. Friedman has overseen the building and management of three independent living complexes for people with disabilities. He has been in private practice since 1981 and served as a psychological consultant to the Parole Board for 10 years. Prior to joining the RIDOC in 2002, he served as a Psychologist and Behavioral Medicine Director of Cardiac Programs for Lifespan. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor with the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University School of Medicine.
Dr. Friedman is a licensed psychologist in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, a licensed Health Service Provider in Massachusetts, and a Certified Correctional Health Professional. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard for six years. He earned an Ed.D. from Boston University in Counseling Psychology, a M.A. from California State University at Long Beach, and a B.A. from Bowdoin College.
The 20007 Heroes in the Fight awards were presented on September 11th, 2007, at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick. Sponsoring organizations in addition to NAMI include the Manic Depressive and Depressive Association of Rhode Island, the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island, the Mental Health Consumer Advocates of Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island Council of Community Mental Health Organizations.