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Mental Health Update

Posted in:
February 20, 2024
Mental Health Update

Aileen Gunther Announces Her Retirement from State Assembly

I have known Aileen Gunther since she became the Assembly Mental Hygiene Chair a dozen years ago.

From the start, she became a passionate advocate for people with mental health related issues.  Based on her upbringing and career as a nurse, her compassion was evident from day one.  The passion for helping people has not wavered in the years I have known her. If she believed in a cause, she didn’t care whose feathers she ruffled—Aileen was in it for all the right reasons.

Over her tenure as Chair, much has been accomplished—-Additional housing, COLAS for the Workforce, Mental Health Education in K—12, creation of the School Mental Health Resource and Training Center, parity, Medication Access, youth mental health, peer and family engagement and so much more.

She was always there for MHANYS. Even this year, we had countless conversations (and will continue to do so) about our priorities including Workforce,  Pension Bill, and College Mental Health. She always listened and led the way and was such a huge cheerleader for our work.

But she had so many other great qualities. The Yiddish word to describe her is Heimisha.  The English definition of which is informal, cozy, warm and unpretentious.

That is what she and her staff are and were to me.  Whenever I was at the LOB, I know that I could always stop by her office for friendly conversation and often a great laugh.  Over the years, she also became a friend. We shared stories about our families, food and whatever else was on our minds.

She will leave a great legacy but we still have much to do this legislative session with her…and undoubtedly she will be fighting for our cause till the day she leaves office.

I will miss her greatly.