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James Plastiras 
Director of Public Information
New York State Office of Mental Health
518-474-6540 james.plastiras@omh.ny.gov

June 29, 2017

Office of Mental Health Distributes $75,000 from ‘Mental Illness Anti-Stigma Fund’

Voluntary Tax Check-Off Funds 15 Anti-Stigma Projects

ALBANY, NY- The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) today announced awards totaling $75,000 for projects that help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. 

The funding comes from taxpayer contributions received through a voluntary tax check-off program launched in 2016. This program allows taxpayers to donate easily to the ‘Mental Illness Anti-Stigma Fund’ when filing their NYS taxes, similar to other provisions where taxpayers can support Alzheimer's research, breast cancer awareness, and various other efforts.

“The Office of Mental Health works tirelessly to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, but this tax check-off program goes a step beyond that,” said OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. “It allows taxpayers to contribute to a cause that matters to them, and to see exactly how those contributions are being used in their communities. The ‘Mental Illness Anti-Stigma Fund’ allows every New Yorker to play a role in reducing stigma, and we are eager to see the impact these awarded projects will have across the state.”

The stigma associated with mental illness remains pervasive and too often discourages or prevents individuals from seeking needed treatment and care.  OMH has a long record of promoting initiatives and public awareness programs that are dedicated to eliminating this stigma. This tax check-off program helps OMH fund organizations that are committed to providing information about mental illness and addressing the stigma associated with mental illness. 

Senator David Carlucci, sponsor of the tax check-off law, said, "The stigma relating to mental illness can have a very serious effect on a person and can cause many individuals to not seek services that they may need. By providing for an income tax check-off, we will provide an easy way for New Yorkers to help prevent this unnecessary burden for persons with mental illness.  I am glad to see this program having an impact on reducing this stigma through the work of the organizations receiving this funding."

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, sponsor and Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Mental Health, said, "Stigma is one of the biggest barriers for those seeking treatment for mental illness. I am proud to have sponsored the legislation to create the anti-stigma tax check-off. These grants will help educate and inform, and will get the message out that mental illness is nothing to be afraid or ashamed of."

Senator Robert Ortt, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, said, “This accomplishment is a win-win for the behavioral health community, advocates and not-for-profits. More importantly, this mental health tax check-off law increases public awareness while reducing the stigma often attached to mental illness. I’m hopeful the tax check-off will garner even more support in the coming years and better protect one of the most vulnerable populations of our community.”

The Office of Mental Health has distributed 15 grants of up to $5,000 each to support year-long stigma-reduction projects. The awardees, with their project description, are broken down by region, below:

 

Central Region-

Awardee

Project Summery

Le Moyne College

Print and online newsletters aimed at students, faculty, and parents

Mental Health Association in Fulton & Montgomery Counties

Activities using in-person presentations and social media to reduce stigma among at-risk youth at local high schools

 

Hudson River Region- 

Awardee

Project Summery

Andrus

Social media and in-person events aimed at 7 Yonkers school communities

Mental Health Association in Orange County

Radio spots focusing on Housing and Education stigma reduction

The Sage Colleges (Esteves School of Education)

Conference speaker for annual conference aimed at educators

 

Long Island Region- 

Awardee

Project Summery

Association for Mental Health and Wellness

Web-based campaign to increase awareness and participation in activities already in place

Federation of Organizations

Activities aimed at local businesses to address stigma related to hiring people with mental illness

Long Island Crisis Center

In-reach to middle/high schools via workshops and social media

 

New York City Region- 

Awardee

Project Summery

Goodwill Industries

40-60 min documentary for public release in NYC

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Launch a toolkit to teach people to combat stigma

The Floating Hospital

Education and awareness targeted to homeless families

 

Western Region- 

Awardee

Project Summery

Fairport High School (Jeffrey & Grace Hoffman)

Targeted programs to reduce stigma and normalize mental health in Fairport High School

Mental Health Association in Genesee & Orleans Counties

In-reach to middle/high school students, faculty, and parents via presentations, as well as training school staff to continue efforts after grant

The Dale Association

Social media campaign aimed at their clients and the community

 

Statewide- 

Awardee

Project Summery

Mental Health Association in New York State

Evidence-based mental health curriculum for use by school personnel

 

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