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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

October 15, 2020

New York State Recognizes Western New York Parent for Role as a Family Peer Mentor

Michelle Morales Honored for Using her Lived Experience as a Mother to Someone with an Eating Disorder to Help Other Families Struggling with the Disorder

Albany, NY –New York State is honoring Michelle Morales, a Parent Peer Mentor at the Western NY Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders (WNYCCCED), with the 2020 ‘What’s Great in our State’ Family/Caregiver Award.

Michelle’s daughter was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at age 12. She has used this lived experience to educate and support other parents and family members throughout 30 counties in Western and Central NY.  She believes families play a crucial role in the recovery of their loved ones and that they are the best resource to promote that recovery.

Michelle organizes and conducts educational workshops, co-facilitates parenting and multi-family groups, offers individual skill building sessions to parents in the community, and facilitates a monthly community-based parent support group. She has participated in numerous advocacy opportunities to educate state legislators, insurance companies, school personnel and healthcare providers about the special circumstances that families can find themselves in as caretakers.

“Michelle Morales shows us ‘What’s Great in Our State’ by advocating for families to play a significant and necessary role in their loved one’s recovery,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. “Michele is using her personal experience to help parents and family members learn how to be supportive and helpful. We thank her and all our honorees for their hard work and commitment to children’s mental health.”

Michelle was presented with the award at the annual ‘What’s Great in our State 2020’ event on October 15th held virtually via WebEx. The celebration recognizes the individuals and programs that are successfully advancing the cause of children’s mental health in New York State.

I am honored to be recognized for the work I do supporting the many families that have a loved one who has been diagnosed with an eating disorder. Through the Western New York Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders, I have helped our mission, to build relationships through connection,” says Michelle Morales Parent Peer Mentor for the WNYCCCED. “It is in these connections we foster hope and healing. We have accomplished this by providing education, skills, resources, support and advocacy to over 30 counties in Western New York. Together we help families navigate through a complex illness by providing comprehensive and coordinated care. The WNYCCCED gives our community the most powerful medication we have to fight eating disorders; connection, love and kindness.”


What’s Great in Our State’

The ‘What’s Great in Our State’ event was first launched in 2010 and is typically held during Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a national movement that raises awareness about the importance of children’s mental health. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was postponed and reorganized as a virtual celebration.

The event is sponsored by six New York State agencies and several children’s mental health advocacy organizations: The Office of Mental Health, the Council on Children and Families, the Department of Health, the State Education Department, the Office of Children and Family Services and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, Early Care & Learning Council, Families Together in New York State, Inc., Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc., National Alliance on Mental Illness - New York State, New York State Network for Youth Success, Prevent Child Abuse New York, Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc., and the Suicide Prevention Center of New York.


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