This has been a very busy year at MHANYS with the beginning of the implementation of the Mental Health Education in Schools Legislation and the formation of the MHANYS School Mental Health and Education Resource Center. In addition, there have been so many other initiative that we and our members have advocated for across New York whether through workforce, family engagement, suicide prevention, housing, community services, criminal justice reform, parity, medication access, HARP and HCBS, veterans mental health, geriatric mental health and so much more.

As we look to 2019, we know there are many challenges ahead but we are vested at MHANYS through our board of directors, our members and our staff to always be mission driven and to provide the best support and services for individuals with mental health related issues and to expand the conversation about mental health literacy through mental health education in schools, the mental health tax checkoff and the Mental Health Anti-Stigma License Plate bill.

Though we could acknowledge a lot of great people for their work, we particularly want to thank the leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mental Health Commissioner, Dr. Ann Sullivan and Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. They, along with school district across New York State, have helped to provide the leadership to pave the way for the landmark changes being made in mental health education in New York State. States across the nation are looking at New York as the national model for successfully implementing mental health in every school district in New York.

It was one thing to have the law in place, but through the leadership of our Assembly Mental Hygiene Chair, Aileen Gunther and Speaker Heastie, we were able to secure funding to insure that we had a Resource Center in place to respond to the thousands of comments and queries we have received about the new law. Through their leadership, we were able to bring staff together in every region of the State along with our affiliates to help insure the success of mental health education. She and her team have also been a leader for us in so many other areas.

I also want to acknowledge the work of our soon to be former Senate Mental Hygiene Chair, Rob Ortt. Senator Ortt in his four years as chair showed himself to be an incredibly strong advocate for both MHANYS and the entire mental health system. There are so many areas in which he and his team was so strongly supportive of our issues. Whether it was CIT, Mental Health First Aid, Suicide Prevention, Workforce, Veterans Mental Health, he was always there to support the work of our community. We will miss him and his team. We do welcome our new, yet old, Senate Mental Hygiene Chair, David Carlucci back. We had the pleasure of working with him when he was chair and he proved to be another strong advocate for our community members. We look forward to working with him and his team.

Finally, the success of our organization would not come about without our members and our friends in the community who against difficult odds provide, safe, secure and recovery oriented services for the many individuals with mental health related issues. Thank you for all you do and Happy New Year.