Maui News

Two Mauians to be Honored for Mental Health Work

April 14, 2016, 1:26 PM HST
* Updated April 15, 5:08 AM
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Lillian “Leo” Asuncion (left) and Sanoelani Lanias (right). Photos courtesy: Mental Health America of Hawaiʻi.

Lillian “Leo” Asuncion (left) and Sanoelani Lanias (right). Photos courtesy: Mental Health America of Hawaiʻi.

Two Mauians will be honored next month with awards from the Mental Health America of Hawaiʻi organization for their work in promoting mental wellness and improving the care of those with mental health problems.

Lillian “Leo” Asuncion with the Maui Family Guidance Center and Sanoelani Lanias, a senior at Kamehameha Schools Maui, are among five individuals across the state who were selected for individual leadership awards.

The 2016 Mental Health Mahalo Awards will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at the Ala Moana Hotel on Oʻahu.

The 11th Annual awards luncheon will recognize those, who through their unwavering and innovative commitment to Hawaiʻi’s mental health, have inspired others and helped to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

Awards and recipients this year include the following:


Outstanding Government Leader


Lillian “Leo” Asuncion is the Mental Health Supervisor of the Maui Family Guidance Center, part of the Department of Health’s child and Adolescent Mental Health Division. Leo has been an advocate and leader for getting children the mental health services they need in the rural areas of Maui County. She also conducts domestic violence therapy groups, mentors students through the Hawaiian Scholarship Foundation and is raising three of her ten grandchildren.

Outstanding Consumer Youth Advocate

Sanoelani Lanias is a senior at Kamehameha Schools Maui with a 4.0 GPA. Organization leaders say that in working on her own mental health, she has emerged as a fierce mental health advocate for her fellow students. Sanoe’s senior project is a presentation entitled “Creating Supportive Environments for Students with Mental Health Disorders,” and she is using it to educate the school community and breakdown discrimination and stigma related to mental illness.


Outstanding Community Leader

Keith Kuboyama is the Executive Vice President of Program and Clinical Services for Family Programs Hawaii. In addition to his leadership at Family Programs, he is recognized for his passion and commitment to helping children overcome trauma and build resilience through strong relationships with their caregivers.

Outstanding Adult Consumer Advocate

Justin Phillips is the Outreach Coordinator for the Institute for Human Services. He works in the trenches of street outreach and is known for his special ability to build rapport and connect with people in the direst situations of homelessness and mental illness. Justin is a bright light in the midst of our homeless crisis.

Outstanding Family Advocate

Ed and Fredda Sullam are founders and board members of NAMI-Hawaii. They have left no stone unturned in seeking help for their son, who lives with schizophrenia. Over the years they have been instrumental in advocacy for access to treatment and providing support to family members. The Sullams continue to fight for the mentally ill and their families.

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