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

May 04, 2021

New York State Recognizes Western New York Parent for Role as a Family Support Specialist

Bethany Morgan Honored for Turning her Lived Experience into a Passion for Helping Others

Albany, NY –New York State is honoring Bethany Morgan, a Family Support Specialist at BestSelf Behavioral Health in Buffalo, with the 2021 ‘What’s Great in our State’ Family/Caregiver Award.

This award recognizes family members or caregivers who through their professional or volunteer work have made a difference in their community using their own lived experience.

Bethany’s experience in foster care as a child helped shape her understanding of the inner workings of a system of care. When she became a single teen mom to a child with a mental health disability, Bethany learned the importance of family and youth voice, as well as personal and peer advocacy. She now uses that experience advocating for family-driven care for the families she supports.

“Bethany Morgan shows us ‘What’s Great in Our State’ through her drive to continuously improve the mental health system, standard of care and individual experience,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. “Bethany is using her personal experience to provide unwavering support to families and children who may not know how to navigate the system and can benefit from that peer support. We thank her and all our honorees for their hard work and commitment to children’s mental health.”

Bethany was presented with the award at the annual ‘What’s Great in our State 2021’ event on May 4th held virtually via Zoom. 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 my role as a Family Peer Advocate. Family engagement and family empowerment should never be the exception- we need to advocate until it is the expectation in all NYS systems of care,” said Bethany Morgan. “Encouraging and empowering families to have a voice and choice in any decision that impacts their family, and then respecting their perception, is the key in building healthy, trusting relationships and achieving better outcomes in care.  Intentional listening or a simple “what would you like to see happen” can make all the difference. It’s OK to experience life through someone else’s story and to think and feel outside of what you’ve been taught. Those are the people who become the real change makers and then go on to empower others to do the same. In a day in age when everything is “Evidence based” Let us not forget that NOTHING is more evidence based then lived experience.”

“We are so proud Bethany Morgan is being recognized for her commitment to the families BestSelf serves,” said Elizabeth Woike-Ganga, LSCW-R, President and CEO BestSelf Behavioral Health in Buffalo. “Bethany’s outstanding work exemplifies BestSelf’s commitment to family driven care and the important role that Credentialed Family Peer Advocates play in our services to youth and families.”


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 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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