Hudson Valley Mental Health Toolkit Kickoff
Article from the Poughkeepsie Journal
John Ferro: 845-437-4816, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Group begins effort
to wipe away mental health stigma
In quiet but confident tones, Anil Sannesy spoke of the stigma associated with mental health illness.
Sannesy, a 35-year-old Middletown resident, has battled with mental illness and now serves as a volunteer with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
"When you are young, you don’t recognize the stigma," he said. "In the very beginning, it starts off as negative attention. And later on you feel degraded and it kind of weighs down on you."
A local group is launching an effort to change that. The first of several meetings in the Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier were held Thursday (December 15) to develop guidelines, tips and other resources for health professionals, law enforcement, school officials and others.
HealthlinkNY, a state-funded nonprofit, is seeking to wipe away the shame and fear that too often shroud the suffering and impede recovery.
"If you have a friend or family member who is diagnosed with cancer, the outpouring of support that the community gives is just incredible," said Phillip Ginter, the group's director of community initiatives. "When you hear someone has depression from an anxiety disorder, you don't get that same kind of response."
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all ages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the second-leading cause among people between 15 and 34 years old.
Dutchess County has the second-highest suicide rate in HealthlinkNY's seven-county Hudson Valley region with 10.1 self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people. In Sullivan County, the number is 18.2 per 100,000.
The mid-Hudson region's rate is 8.1, slightly below the statewide rate of 8.2.
Three of the five Southern Tier counties that the group represents exceed the state rate — Delaware County (18.6 per 100,000), Broome (11.8) and Tompkins (10.7) leading the way.
Life expectancy for patients diagnosed with severe mental illness, Ginter said, is reduced by as much as 25 years.
Often, the most significant barrier to getting mental health services, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, is the notion that the stigma is external.
"The stigma," Molinaro said, "is us. We as individuals need to look internally and accept that behavioral health is the same as physical health and community health."
In the coming months, HealthlinkNY will convene meetings and develop an "anti-stigma toolkit." The toolkit's content will depend on the input the group receives.
Ginter said he expects the project to be completed within 12 months.
HOW TO HELP
Individuals and organizations wishing to take part in the development of the anti-stigma toolkit can contact HealthlinkNY's Hudson Valley Program Manager, Victoria Reid, email@example.com or 845-896-4726. Those in the Southern Tier can contact Southern Tier Program Manager Jessica Krohn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 844-840-0050.
Web site: http://www.healthlinkny.com/
Understanding What Causes Stigma