Office of Mental Health Distributes $75,000 from ‘Mental Illness
Anti-Stigma Fund’

Voluntary Tax Check-Off Funds 15 Anti-Stigma Projects

ALBANY, NY- The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) today
announced awards totaling $75,000 for projects that help reduce the stigma
associated with mental illness.

The funding comes from taxpayer contributions received through a voluntary
tax check-off program launched in 2016. This program allows taxpayers to
donate easily to the ‘Mental Illness Anti-Stigma Fund’ when filing their
NYS taxes, similar to other provisions where taxpayers can support
Alzheimer’s research, breast cancer awareness, and various other efforts.

“The Office of Mental Health works tirelessly to reduce the stigma
associated with mental illness, but this tax check-off program goes a step
beyond that,” said OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. “It allows taxpayers
to contribute to a cause that matters to them, and to see exactly how those
contributions are being used in their communities. The ‘Mental Illness
Anti-Stigma Fund’ allows every New Yorker to play a role in reducing
stigma, and we are eager to see the impact these awarded projects will have
across the state.”

The stigma associated with mental illness remains pervasive and too often
discourages or prevents individuals from seeking needed treatment and
care. OMH has a long record of promoting initiatives and public awareness
programs that are dedicated to eliminating this stigma. This tax check-off
program helps OMH fund organizations that are committed to providing
information about mental illness and addressing the stigma associated with
mental illness.

Senator David Carlucci, sponsor of the tax check-off law, said, “The stigma
relating to mental illness can have a very serious effect on a person and
can cause many individuals to not seek services that they may need. By
providing for an income tax check-off, we will provide an easy way for New
Yorkers to help prevent this unnecessary burden for persons with mental
illness. I am glad to see this program having an impact on reducing this
stigma through the work of the organizations receiving this funding.”

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, sponsor and Chairman of the Assembly
Committee on Mental Health, said, “Stigma is one of the biggest barriers
for those seeking treatment for mental illness. I am proud to have
sponsored the legislation to create the anti-stigma tax check-off. These
grants will help educate and inform, and will get the message out that
mental illness is nothing to be afraid or ashamed of.”

Senator Robert Ortt, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and
Developmental Disabilities, said, “This accomplishment is a win-win for the
behavioral health community, advocates and not-for-profits. More
importantly, this mental health tax check-off law increases public
awareness while reducing the stigma often attached to mental illness. I’m
hopeful the tax check-off will garner even more support in the coming years
and better protect one of the most vulnerable populations of our community.”

The Office of Mental Health has distributed 15 grants of up to $5,000 each
to support year-long stigma-reduction projects. The awardees, with their
project description, are broken down by region, below:

Central Region 

Le Moyne College – Print and online newsletters aimed at students, faculty, and parents

Mental Health Association in Fulton & Montgomery Counties – Activities using in-person presentations and social media to reduce stigma among at-risk youth at local high schools

Hudson River Region

Andrus – Social media and in-person events aimed at 7 Yonkers school communities

Mental Health Association in Orange County – Radio spots focusing on Housing and Education stigma reduction

The Sage Colleges (Esteves School of Education) – Conference speaker for annual conference aimed at educators

Long Island Region

Association for Mental Health and Wellness – Web-based campaign to increase awareness and participation in activities already in place

Federation of Organizations – Activities aimed at local businesses to address stigma related to hiring
people with mental illness

Long Island Crisis Center – In-reach to middle/high schools via workshops and social media

New York City Region

Goodwill Industries – 40-60 min documentary for public release in NYC

John Jay College of Criminal Justice – Launch a toolkit to teach people to combat stigma

The Floating Hospital – Education and awareness targeted to homeless families

Western Region

Fairport High School (Jeffrey & Grace Hoffman) – Targeted programs to reduce stigma and normalize mental health in Fairport High School

Mental Health Association in Genesee & Orleans Counties – In-reach to middle/high school students, faculty, and parents via presentations, as well as training school staff to continue efforts after grant

The Dale Association – Social media campaign aimed at their clients and the community

Statewide

Mental Health Association in New York State – Evidence-based mental health curriculum for use by school personnel

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