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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

May 03, 2022

New York State Recognizes Long Island Mother for Improving Mental Health Outcomes

Nicole Drey Honored for Turning her Lived Experience into a Pathway to Help Others

Albany, NY – New York State is honoring Nicole Drey, a Licensed Master Social Worker from Long Island, with the 2022 ‘What’s Great in our State’ Family/Caregiver Award.

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

Nicole Drey is the mother of a child with a rare disease. This experience has helped her understand the physical and psychosocial challenges that medical fragility can impose on children and their families. She now uses her lived experiences to help families and children by providing therapeutic care and helping to access services, accommodations, and treatments while building upon the strengths of the child and family. 

She is being honored for using a holistic approach to address the mental health challenges that affect children and families. Throughout the pandemic she identified the unique challenges her clients have experienced and has successfully implemented new strategies to meet their needs.

“Nicole Drey 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. “Nicole is using her personal experience to provide support to families and children who may not know how to navigate the system. We thank her for this commitment to children’s mental health.”

Nicole was presented with the award at the annual ‘What’s Great in our State 2022’ event on May 3rd. 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 families and children with mental illness and promoting healthy emotional development,” said Nicole Drey. “It is a privilege to use my lived experience and research to address the unique psychosocial needs of children living with rare diseases and special needs. I have a passion for influencing mental health policy and advocating for the needs of families and children in diverse and underserved populations.”


What’s Great in Our State’

The ‘What’s Great in Our State’ event was first launched in 2010 and is held during Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a national movement that raises awareness about the importance of children’s mental health. The event features a reading of Governor Kathy Hochul’s announcement proclaiming the week as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a ceremony recognizing our honorees, and an art show featuring artwork created by children receiving services from New York State’s mental health system.

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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