Does your organization, church, temple, or community group want to combine forces with our organization? Do you individually want to engage with us to stop the stigma of mental illness? Please consider becoming a member of our Coalition by completing our membership form.
It is going to take a massive community effort to move the needle on stigma, please become a part of the solution. Questions? Please contact Karl Shallowhorn, Chairperson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aspire of Western New York, Inc.
Aspire’s mission is to support children and adults with developmental and similar disabilities, helping them to live their lives to the fullest by providing individualized assistance based on personal choices.
It is critically and morally important that all people be recognized as individuals who are able to contribute to our community without the threat of being assigned a label. Aspire is committed to the practice of fair treatment for all of our employees and the individuals we support. We also are proud to champion any cause that educates and advocates on behalf of those persons who face the challenges associated with stigmatization in any form.
Renee A. Filip | President & CEO
Christian Counseling Ministries of WNY
Christian Counseling Ministries of WNY is a non-profit, 501(c) 3 ministry dedicated to integrating Christian beliefs and values with traditional therapeutic techniques. As a New York State licensed mental health agency, CCM is committed to providing professional counseling services within a Biblical framework to the individual, couple, family, church body, and community. Our vision is to offer professional counsel and compassionate care to a broken world.
Christian Counseling Ministries of WNY (CCM) has worked toward restoring mental health and reducing stigma since our agency was founded in 1983. CCM of WNY is committed to being a beacon of hope for those struggling with mental health and relationship challenges. We are on mission to equip individuals, couples, and families to establish firm foundations upon which to preserve, achieve, and sustain mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual health. We are proud to stand with the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition as we all do our part to end stigma about mental illness and fill our community with resilience, support, and compassion.
Sharon A. Deacon, Ph.D, LMFT
Native American Community Services
Native American Community Services (NACS) is a non-profit organization founded in 1975 to provide quality health and social services to the off-reservation Native American population in Erie and Niagara Counties. In keeping with our “Tradition of Caring,” we have since grown into a full-scale human services agency committed to helping the entire community, regardless of race or background. NACS has developed innovative and evidence-based approaches that are intended to significantly improve the lives of those who engage in our programs and services. NACS has offices in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Lockport, New York.
NACS recognizes that mental illness is often hidden because of the negative stigma that exists, which prevents people from getting the help they deserve and can hinder them from living a good full life. If the stigma can be removed, real conversations can be held, a real understanding of the situation and resources can be had, and real progress can be made.
Michael Martin | NACS Executive Director
Amherst Chamber of Commerce
The Amherst Chamber of Commerce has a 60-year tradition of responding to the diverse needs of the business community.
Mental health is truly the most important attribute of any person. It contributes to all aspects of an individual’s life. Our complex lives require nurturing, physically and emotionally. Let’s tackle this stigma and grow the conversation.
Christine Langenfeld | Director
Our mission is to advance racial, economic, and ecological justice. We do so through skill-building, network-connecting, and activating leadership opportunities. Our goal is that all communities in Western New York are thriving free from discrimination and poverty.
Open Buffalo is proud and humbled to work in solidarity with such an incredible team of passionate leaders and organizations. We believe by joining forces with the Anti-Stigma Coalition, we can strengthen our work to bring mental wellness and self care to progressive and movement spaces. We hope to serve as a bridge to marginalized and oppressed communities who are in dire need of mental wellness resources and to work collaboratively to break down stigmas in our communities.
Town of Hamburg
Sharing our concerns for the cares of others uplifts those who are all beneficiaries of our efforts, as well as all of us who extend a hand to lighten the load.
James M. Shaw | Supervisor
UPward Design for Life, Corporation
Our Purpose: We develop and grow community partnerships that help us to restore dignity, hope and independence, to those in need, by fully furnishing residences with all donated items.
Our Vision: To see every person in need, in our community, resting safely and peacefully, in a fully furnished home.
As a non-profit organization that also serves individuals who are challenged by mental illness, it is important for us to support other organizations that are taking initiatives towards eliminating the stigma associated with this disorder. This is the only way for communities to effectively work together to serve those who need assistance and bring greater awareness to mental illness, in order to help prevent discrimination and the negative judgement toward those who are living with it.
Dionne Williamson | President & Founder
Pressure Point Consulting, LLC
Pressure Point Consulting, LLC is a leading boutique consulting firm that offers grant writing, workshops i.e. teamwork, seminars, public speaking, and organizational/individual/business development. We work with churches, nonprofits, for-profits, educational institutions, and government agencies to improve processes, implement products, and involve people.
We wish to join the coalition to add value to the conversation around stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace and best practices and ways to support all employees.
Dr. Gary Damon, Jr. | President/Owner
Harmonia Collaborative Care
Harmonia Collaborative Care is a not-for-profit organization offering behavioral health and senior care services to those in need of support. Our professional staff prides itself in providing empathic care to help bring balance into the lives of our clients. The Mission of Harmonia Collaborative Care is to deliver best-practice health home, senior and behavioral health services to foster individuals’ independence and improve their quality of life.
Stigma is the birth-child of judgement and fear. It divides and segregates. It prevents many from seeking help; it prevents others from accepting their own flaws and struggles. Stigma is the enemy of mental-wellness.
Valerie Nowak, LMHC, MPA | CEO
Families Together NYS
Families Together and the Youth Power! division within is the Family and Peer run organization that provides an advocacy platform to families and youth. We provide technical assistance to agencies that are trying to implement youth and family voice into their practices, and provide trainings to agencies working in the field on a variety of topics. We are also the credentialing agency for the Family Peer and Youth Peer Advocate medicaid-recognized credentials.
Families Together in New York State is a non-profit, family-run organization that strives to establish a unified voice for children and youth with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges through collaborations with local, regional, state and national partners. Families Together in New York State is a non-profit, family-run organization that strives to establish a unified voice for children and youth with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges through collaborations with local, regional, state and national partners. Our mission is to ensure that every family and youth have access to needed information, support and services. We believe services for youth and families must be strength-based and sensitive to each family’s culture, involve families and youth in all decision-making processes, and be individualized and community-based whenever possible.Families Together has a long history of stigma busting including Timothy’s Law for mental health services parity, Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids, Multiple Pathways to Diploma, Solutions Not Suspensions, Free2Be for LGBTQ+, Children Need Amazing Parents (CHAMPS) and our latest multi-year effort, Raise the Age.
Paige Pierce | CEO
Billoni Associates provides communications, publishing, events and rainmaker services.
Our goal is to eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and have mental illnesses accepted much like cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.
Michael J. Billoni | Managing Partner
Buffalo Toronto Public Media
The Western New York Public Broadcasting Association is a community-based public broadcasting service serving Western New York and Southern Ontario with a combination of television, radio, education, and online services. Buffalo Toronto Public Media collaborates with community partners on community engagement and content initiatives.
Buffalo Toronto Public Media recognizes the importance of mental health awareness and has been actively working to inform our community about the challenges and issues of mental health. We have been involved in an ongoing Mental Health Initiative, a two-year project that includes in-depth reporting on WBFO along with a number of digital and online components. We believe that by joining The Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition, we can build a stronger, more powerful partnership that can reach even more people of Western New York and have a broader and more profound impact on the mental health of our community.
Donald K. Boswell | President & CEO
Brain-Body Health Technology, LLC
The Brain-Body Health Technology (BBHT) Institute provides people suffering with a wide range of symptoms related to brain-body dysregulation an opportunity to experience cutting-edge, simple and safe technologies that improve brain performance. BBHT will offer a full menu of programs designed to improve clients’ health literacy and cultivate active participation in the therapeutic process. We provide non-pharmaceutical support for the reduction of chronic pain, and recovery from addiction.
Breathtaking advances in technology are changing the way healthcare providers and consumers are partnering in the process of supporting the brain-body’s ability to find its way back to optimal health and wellbeing. Brain-body Health Technology will introduce the WNY community to a wide range of safe, gentle, non-pharmaceutical approaches to the resolution of symptoms.
Kathleen Calabrese PhD LMFT BCN | CEO
Seneca-Babcock Community Association
The Seneca-Babcock Community Association, Inc. in Buffalo, NY is one of the premier human and social services agencies in the Western New York area. We aim to provide a healthy sense of community for all that we serve. Our programs and activities provide skills and training to families that support healthy homes and healthy futures.
Alongside our community residents, elected and appointed officials, our advisory groups and our program partners, we provide a holistic approach to human services. Whether you are looking for child care, youth programs or senior citizen activities, all of our programs and activities focus in six areas of development: (1) sports and recreation, (2) education development, (3) arts and media, (4) health and wellness, (5) workforce development and (6) character and leadership development.
The Seneca-Babcock Community Association, Inc. is committed to developing and enhancing the quality of life for residents of the Lovejoy district, including at-risk youth, adults, families and seniors. Our goal is to deliver a strong sense of empowerment through participation in education, economic, social and health
Brian Pilarski | Executive Director
Buffalo Blues for Veterans
Buffalo Blues for Veterans engages musicians and artists to donate their time and talent to build a better community, including our music campaign that has raised and donated over $60,000 to WNY
non-profits serving veterans & military families.
We are advocates for asset-building & collaboration and serve as Chair of the Community
Awareness Team at the fast-growing community veterans engagement board of WNY.
Buffalo Blues for Veterans currently manages a non-profit POWER OF SONG, INC. that engages musicians and artists to donate their time and talent to build a better community, including our music campaign that has raised and donated over $60,000 to WNY non-profits serving Veterans & Military families.
Bob James | Director
EPIC Every Person Influences Children
In 1980, Robert Wilson established EPIC in Buffalo, NY with the mission to involve the entire community to help children make responsible decisions, understand and respect authority, develop positive self-esteem, plan for the future and succeed in life. Our Mission Statement: Helping families, schools and communities raise children to become responsible & successful adults.
EPIC has been part of the conversation for a long time, supporting families with mental health and other challenges for 40 years. Families are more likely to overcome mental illness when supported by the community. Support from the community includes providing resources, education and services, in addition to helping families remove barriers to success. One of those barriers is the shame of mental illness and the embarrassment of asking for help. We are pleased to be part of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition because we want to be a part of the solution for families who need help and deserve success.
Tara N. Burgess | Executive Director
Community Mental Health Committee of St Joseph University Parish
The mission of the Community Mental Health Committee of St. Joseph University Parish is to create an environment of hope, understanding, and compassion so as to increase the acceptance of all individuals and families affected by mental health concerns.
Veterans One-Stop Center of WNY
The Veterans One-Stop Center of WNY provides supportive services to veterans and their families in a convenient single location. We empower veterans to achieve economic success, housing stability, and emotional health and wellbeing by offering a wide range of social and health services needed to complete the transition from military to civilian life. The group provides barrier-free access in the comfort of a “home base” environment that is always welcoming, affirming and responsive to the needs of veterans and their families. Any veteran regardless of status is eligible for services.
The stigma surrounding mental health, especially in the military community, needs to come to an end. As the premier veterans service non-profit in Western New York, we witness firsthand veterans struggle with mental illness and the severe obstacles they overcome in order to ask for help. It is so important for organizations to join forces to break the silence and stop the stigma. The Veterans One-stop Center of WNY is proud to be part of this coalition and move the conversation forward.
Chuck Marra | President and CEO
Inclusive Theater of WNY
Inclusive Theater of WNY (ITOWNY) is a performing and visual arts company, that is dedicated to advancing artists of all forms and levels of ability – including artists with disabilities – to encourage the change of socially constructed images and misconceptions that exist of people from diverse backgrounds and groups.
Inclusive Theater of WNY (ITOWNY) is dedicated to shattering stigma of all kinds. We recently staged a Festival on Shorts that addressed the topic of Stigma and covered the topics of suicide, PTSD, drug addiction, gun violence, eating disorders, mental illness, & physical disabilities. We had an empathetic, talented cast of actors and directors working together to bring these important stories to the stage. Addressing stigma saves lives and we will continue to do our part to help do just that!
Aimee Levesque | Founder, Executive and Artistic Director
Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.
MHANYS is a not-for-profit organization that works to end the stigma against mental illness and promotes mental health wellness in New York State. MHANYS achieves this through training, education, advocacy and policy, community-based partnership programming, and by connecting individuals and families to help.
MHANYS is proud to support the work being done by the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition. In many ways, stigma remains the number one issue we face in mental health. The goals of the coalition in taking a strategic approach to ending stigma is something we strongly support and endorse. We look forward to being actively involved with the coalition.
Glenn Liebman | CEO
Through collaborations, community awareness, and civic engagement, Leadership Buffalo is uniting leaders to take action. Our six programs are educating individuals and providing resources to make a difference. Participants explore the challenges, concepts, complexity and practice of leadership around important issues through a series of day sessions. We unite leaders from diverse backgrounds and increase their knowledge of community issues, broaden their vision and enhance their ability to lead. Through these programs, Leadership Buffalo has expanded Western New York’s social capital by graduating more than 3,000 individuals.
Leadership Buffalo is dedicated to creating an inclusive and open-minded community. By joining the conversation with the Anti-Stigma Coalition, we can support the platform for voices to be heard, information to be shared, and hope to be spread.
Althea Luehrsen | CEO
Self-Advocacy Association of NYS
Our goal is to help self-advocates build the skill and courage needed to speak up for themselves and others. We believe that empowered self-advocates can help create inclusive communities and a person-centered and person-directed system of supports. To further this goal, the SANYS board and delegated staff members support self-advocates and self-advocacy groups regionally and statewide. SANYS encourages self-advocates to speak for themselves individually and collectively.
At SANYS, we have long stood against the stigmatizing of people with developmental disabilities. No person should have to bear the burden of stigma because of their differences. We at SANYS know how hurtful stigma can be and we commend the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition for it’s work to end the stigmatizing of people due to their mental health status. It is time that we all learn to honor our human differences rather than use them as reasons to stigmatize or discriminate against one another.
Arnold Ackerley | Administrative Director
Just Buffalo Literary Center
Just Buffalo Literary Center believes in the love of reading, the art of writing and the power of the literary arts to transform individual lives and communities.
This work is very close to our heart. As a literary center, we know the power of words to both hurt and to heal. Writing often becomes a way to process experiences and challenges related to mental illness; and a way to share the stories of resilience, strength, courage and hope.
Laurie Dean Torrell | Executive Director
Envision Wellness WNY Behavioral Health
Envision Wellness WNY Behavioral Health has been providing treatment services in WNY for over four decades. We have made it our highest priority to support and empower all persons who have requested guidance, turning no one away. We have also chosen to maintain a similar footprint to when the agency was founded so that we could maintain the values that allowed us to create a community within WNY. Services include; Behavioral/Mental Health treatment in an Out Patient Clinic, Day Treatment programs and Community Supports
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increase the burden: It is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.’”
Those of us who are called to heal know first hand how difficult it is to ask for help when one is in pain. Stigma makes asking for help that much more difficult often creating more barriers to healing for the individual, families and the community as a whole. We envision a world where stigma for being hurt and heartbroken no longer exists allowing for generational healing. Where asking for help is the first response because there is no longer shame but compassion.
Tara Pace | Executive Director
DENT Neurologic Institute
The goal at the DENT Neurologic Institute is to expand behavioral health and to improve psychiatric care in Western New York. We treat patients for a wide range of mental illnesses and addiction disorders, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and more. Over the years, our psychiatric team has continued to grow, which has allowed for increased access to care as well as expansion of treatment modalities such as ECT, TMS, Ketamine Infusion and psychotherapy.
At DENT Neurologic Institute, we are committed to the expansion of our behavioral health programs and optimizing the mental health in children, adolescences and adults. Our goal is to provide quality care in a professional, personal and caring environment.
Joseph V. Fritz | Chief Executive Officer, PhD
Niagara Falls Public Library
Our mission is to provide the citizens of Niagara Falls with quality service, access to excellent collections, assistance in using emerging technologies, and a pleasing, safe environment.
Libraries provide a free space where individuals of all ages can learn and explore without the fear of judgment. As a vital part of the Niagara Falls community, we want to empower our patrons to educate themselves about mental health and know that we are committed to ending the stigma.
Sarah Potwin | Director
Via Evaluation, Inc.
Via Evaluation, Inc. (VIA) provides tailored evaluation and data consultation services to mental health, social service, education and other providers. Our team of highly qualified and passionate staff helps organizations make data informed decisions to fulfill their mission. We have provided expert, timely, and responsive services to clients since 1998.
Almost everyone has experienced their own or loved ones’ mental health challenges, yet people struggling to maintain positive mental health often feel they are alone in this struggle. Acknowledging that we aren’t alone in these challenges encourages and allows for more open dialogue, confronting negative stereotypes, and enhancing services and support structures so people receive the help they need, when they need it.
Komani Lundquist Cedano | CEO & Co-owner
Person Centered Services
Person Centered Services is a Care Coordination Organization serving over 17,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 18 counties. Care coordinators work on a “Life Plan” tailored to every one of an individual’s needs. We work with dozens of organizations and hundreds of providers, so people can meet all of their goals.
Mental illness has no boundaries. The team at Person Centered Services is committed to uniting with our community to help each and every person break the silence and get the care and supports necessary to a fulfilling life.
Bridget Bartolone | CEO
DePaul is a progressive, private not-for-profit organization founded in 1958 that provides services in the areas of addiction prevention and support services, affordable housing, mental health residential, senior living communities, support programs, and vocational programs.
Living Opportunities of DePaul provides housing, support, advocacy, and recovery-oriented supports to adult individuals in 7 Western New York Counties. In Erie County alone, DePaul serves about 600 adults at any given time. Through the years, we have helped thousands of individuals lead normal and productive lives while fighting stigma at the same time. Many years ago, it was nearly impossible to locate a mental health residential program in Erie County. Although it is still not an easy feat, communities have become much more receptive to our presence. This is good news, but we still have a long way to go. Through the years, DePaul has lost some of its consumers as a result of suicide. In addition, we lost two very dear employees to this same fate. We believe that our ongoing battle to fight stigma will be the key to helping people obtain the help they need. This will not only save lives, but it will improve the quality of lives for those who get help.
Christopher Syracuse | Executive Director/Vice President
Erie County Medical Center Corporation
The ECMC Corporation was established as a New York State Public Benefit Corporation and since 2004 has included an advanced academic medical center with 573 inpatient beds, on- and off-campus health centers, more than 30 outpatient specialty care services and Terrace View, a 390-bed long-term care facility. ECMC is Western New York’s only Level 1 Adult Trauma Center, as well as a regional center for burn care, behavioral health services, transplantation, medical oncology and head & neck cancer care, rehabilitation and a major teaching facility for the University at Buffalo. Most ECMC physicians, dentists and pharmacists are dedicated faculty members of the university and/or members of a private practice plan.
ECMC is committed to ending the stigma of mental illness and we join the dedicated partners of the Anti-Stigma Coalition to advocate for our friends, neighbors and relatives who face this challenge in their lives. At the Regional Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health, ECMC’s empathetic caregivers work to assist patients with mental illness and various psychiatric issues. From emergency and inpatient care to ambulatory services, including our new Help Center that provides urgent care service for walk-in mental health treatment of adults in crisis who do not require psychiatric emergency treatment or inpatient care, ECMC joins the continuum of care providers in our community to provide access to quality, compassionate care.
Thomas J. Quatroche, Jr., Ph.D | President & Chief Executive Officer
Mental Health Peer Connection
Mental Health Peer Connection, one of the family of agencies of the Western New York Independent Living, Inc. is a peer-driven advocacy organization, dedicated to facilitating self-directed growth, wellness, and choice, through genuine peer mentoring. We serve those with Behavioral Health issues stay out of institutions, successfully live in the community, and obtain real employment.
Since 1994, Mental Health Peer Connection, has been fighting for the rights and community inclusion for those suffering from emotional distress and mental illness. Too often we see the discrimination and mortality of those prevented by stigma from equal community access. MHPC is a change agent for the people we serve. MHPC would like to join forces with the Erie County Anti-stigma coalition to increase the rights and community inclusion of our fellow brothers and sisters.
Maura Kelley | Director
We are an organization that promotes healthy communities. We believe working together and building social capital is a strategic way to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.
Community Veterans Engagement Board
CVEB of WNY is an advocacy organization (with over 25 member organizations) working in collaboration with academia, business, trades, not-for-profits and the Veterans Administration to insure a continuum of care for our military veterans and families. We seek to provide a quality education, gainful employment and excellent health care for them in WNY.
PTSD is a major problem in the military and veteran community. The stigma associated with seeking help can be detrimental to one’s military career and has further negative implications when moving to veteran’s status. One of the critical missions of the CVEB is to proactively work on breaking down the stigma associated with mental illness that our society does not understand.
Patrick W. Welch, PhD | Board Chair
Buffalo City Swim Racers
The mission of Buffalo City Swim Racers is developing character with a commitment
to excellence, families and neighborhoods while creating lifelong swimmers.
Buffalo City Swim Racers is pleased to partner with the Erie County Anti-Stigma
Coalition. The importance of bringing the discussion of mental illness into the light
affects everyone. We look forward to being a part of this tremendous effort.
Michael F. Switalski | Executive Director
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Western NY Chapter
AFSP raises awareness, funds scientific research and provides resources and aid to those affected by suicide.
AFSP is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health by engaging in the following core strategies: funding scientific research, educating the public about mental health and suicide prevention, advocating for public policies in mental health and suicide prevention, and supporting survivors of suicide loss and those affected by suicide in our mission. At AFSP, we believe in the importance of having a #RealConvo about mental health and are thrilled to join the coalition’s efforts in doing just that!
Missy Stolfi | Area Director
Population Health Collaborative
We are a regional population health collaborative, we connect diverse groups of people to align resources and expertise. Together, we actively work towards improving population health in Western New York.
Sunshine is often the best medicine.” Being more open, candid and honest about mental health is an important beginning. As we accept the fact that “illness is illness” we can make it easier for people to get the help they need, no different from any other healthcare, and improve people’s lives and the community as a whole. We are proud to be a “Lets Talk” and stop the stigma movement member.
John Craik | Executive Director
CCNY supports organizations seamlessly integrate measurement and management, program and practice evaluation, and quality improvement strategies into their organization to support programs and services that result in positive outcomes for their clients and the community.
People dealing with mental health challenges should know they are not alone, help is available and recovery is possible. Our organization does not provide direct service, but is intimately linked with the mental health community. We commit to helping to spread the word beyond the traditional “choir” by sharing the website and asking other employers and affiliations of ours who may not be directly involved in behavioral health care to take the pledge and consider becoming a member as well.
Heidi Milch | Executive Director
Pilgrim-St. Luke’s United Church of Christ (UCC)
Pilgrim-St. Luke’s United Church of Christ (UCC) is located on Buffalo’s West Side. It is a multi-generational, multicultural, multilingual, welcoming and inclusive to all congregation. Grounded in the Congregational tradition, Pilgrim-St. Luke’s is the home for many community-based organizations and serves as a driver for social change through its ministry.
Pilgrim-St. Luke’s United Church of Christ (UCC) is fully committed to being an inclusive community where all are welcome. We have received the designation from the UCC Mental Health Network as being a WISE (Welcoming Inclusive Supportive and Engaged) congregation where individuals living with mental health challenges are fully accepted into every aspect of our ministry, from church leadership to offering our weekly support group as well as acknowledging those in need of assistance in our “prayers of the people.”
Rev. Nancy Rosas
The mission of WNYHeroes is to provide veterans, members of the armed services, and the widows and children of deceased veterans with access to essential services, financial assistance and resources that support their lives and sustain their dignity.
As a Veterans group and running a service dog program called Pawsitive for Heroes, we are constantly out speaking about the effects and changes our program has and continues to make for those dealing with PTSD, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and more. We are asked to speak in schools of all levels, county and state conferences etc.
Christopher M. Kreiger | President / CEO
Empowering the people we serve to live the lives they choose through the following supports: Children’s Academy preschool education, housing, health clinics and job training and day programs.
Our goal is to ensure better health, personal growth, more independence, and community involvement. Together we EMPOWER individuals to lead their best possible lives.
Mental illness is not a choice. It’s a fact of life. We need to stop treating people with a mental health diagnosis as if they’re less worthy of love and support. Every person has dignity and value. We believe in talking about mental illness with dignity and respect.
Jeff Paterson | Chief Executive Officer
People Inc. is Western New York’s leading non-profit human services agency. Through a variety of services, including residential, employment, community outreach, health care and recreation programs, we help families and people with disabilities, as well as seniors, live more healthy, independent and productive lives.
All stigma divides. Let’s create a better world right now, together.
Rhonda Frederick | CEO
Community Services for Every1
Community Services for Every1 partners with individuals of all abilities to reach their fullest potential, protecting their rights and promoting their independence and inclusion in our community.
We need to join together as a community to end the stigma on mental illness. Far too often people do not speak about the struggles they are facing because society has embraced silence over treatment. Through partnerships and education, we can end this behavior.
Mental illness does not discriminate. Individuals of all abilities can be diagnosed with a mental illness. Many of the individuals we work with at Community Services for Every1 have a dual diagnosis of a mental illness and either an intellectual or developmental disability. Receiving proper treatment with a dual diagnosis is especially difficult because of a lack of understanding, an inability to treat the dual complexities present, and sometimes an added obstacle of an inability to communicate clearly. Our organization was built on the foundation of understanding and embracing individuals who struggle with a dual diagnosis. As we continue to grow, I am proud to say we strive to help as many people living with these struggles as possible.
I am proud to partner to end the stigma. I believe by working together we can get that much closer to helping people break the silence and receive proper treatment.
Mindy Cervoni | President & CEO
OLV Human Services
OLV Human Services is made up of nearly 1,000 professionals in WNY working side-by-side to carry on a legacy of caring that stretches back 160 years.OLV Human Services’ mission is to prepare, support and empower clients, students, children, youth and families to achieve their life goals.
Bringing awareness to the realities of mental illness is the priority of OLV Human Services Providing support, advocacy and assistance is one of our most important endeavors.
Cindy Lee | Chief Executive Officer
Endeavor Health Services
Endeavor Health Services is a public service, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to the development and maintenance of a comprehensive system of accessible and effective services dedicated towards improving the emotional wellness and behavioral health of residents of Western New York.
Endeavor is committed to the education of our community about mental illness. Our mission is to promote wellness and recovery. Reducing stigma, misinformation and fear about mental illness is a priority for Endeavor.
Elizabeth L. Mauro LCSW-R | Chief Executive Officer
Richardson Olmsted Campus
One of Buffalo’s most iconic buildings and a National Historic Landmark, the 145-year-old Richardson Olmsted Campus is being renewed after years of neglect. Designed by great American architect H.H. Richardson and the famed landscape team of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the building incorporated a system of enlightened treatment for people with mental illness developed by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride. Today, the Richardson Olmsted Campus is home to one of the largest historic preservation projects in the nation. Since 2006, the nonprofit Richardson has been hard at work bringing the site back to life after decades of neglect.
Mental health awareness is a important part of the past, present, and future of the Richardson Olmsted Campus. Our campus began in the 1870s as the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, built according to a system of progressive treatment for people with mental illness developed by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride. We are proud to join the Anti-Stigma Coalition as we preserve the unique history of our National Historic Landmark and spark important conversations with our community about bias, stigma, and hope.
Mark Mortenson | Executive Director
SUNY Erie is a three-campus institution serving over 20,000 students yearly. SUNY Erie is the second largest college in Western New York and the number one choice for area high school graduates. SUNY Erie offers 100 degree and certificate programs in the areas of Health Sciences, Business & Public Service, Liberal Arts, and Engineering & Technologies while achieving an overall job placement and transfer rate of over 90%.
We are excited about the infinite potential that joining this campaign will afford our students, faculty, staff, and community constituents. The Anti-Stigma campaign is changing the conversation surrounding mental illness by replacing silence and stigma with acceptance and support.
Nuriyah Clark, Ed.D. | Vice President for Student Affairs
Hamburg Central School District
The Hamburg Central School District is dedicated to educating modern thinkers who create, care, solve and discover. Its schools are places of innovative teaching and active learning.
The district has an enrollment of about 3,480 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12, housed in four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. It has approximately 650 employees, the majority of whom are teachers. The district is suburban and semi-rural in nature, covering about 31 square miles in the Towns of Hamburg, Boston, Eden and Orchard Park, including the Village of Hamburg.
Membership in the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition demonstrates that we are committed to “walking our talk” of supporting the mental and emotional health of our students, their families, and our staff.
Michael Cornell | Superintendent
KKPR Public Relations & Marketing
KKPR is a Western New York public relations company providing crisis communications, writing, editing and media services to non-profit and corporate clients. KKPR delivers solid results for clients by providing high-quality customer service and creative communications solutions
Mental health is a critical component of a person’s overall health. People should not hesitate to speak up or because the stigma of mental illness causes shame or embarrassment. Join the Conversation is making a real difference – educating people, encouraging everyone to use the right words and sharing stories of hope. We are proud to support the Coalition in this important work.
Karen Karaszewski, APR | President
Spectrum Health & Human Services
Spectrum Health and Human Services provideseasy-to-access services including drug addiction counseling, home health care coordination, housing assistance and more. Many of our services are available at our centralized community-based locations across Western New York. Spectrum also offers integrated treatments at satellite locations within medical campuses across Erie and Wyoming Counties. With a large qualified team, Spectrum is available to meet clients’ needs immediately with our same-day and walk-in clinics.
Spectrum is very proud to join our colleagues in our fight to eliminate stigma!
Bruce Nisbet | CEO
BestSelf Behavioral Health
BestSelf Behavioral Health is the largest community-based behavioral health organization serving children, adolescents and adults with mental health and substance use disorders in WNY. BestSelf offers treatment and rehabilitation services that promote self-sufficiency, wellness and recovery.
BestSelf believes that every individual is unique and recovery from mental illness is possible. Often the stigma related to mental illness is a significant barrier to people seeking help. BestSelf supports the efforts of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition to provide education and advocacy to combat stigma in our community. Together we can make a difference in the lives of the one in five people who have a mental illness.
Howard K. Hitzel, Psy.D | President/CEO
Help Me Grow WNY
Help Me Grow WNY enables young children to thrive by linking families and caregivers to information and community resources on child development and parenting, providing personalized connections to local services that meet individual needs and creating partnerships with human service agencies, educators, and health care professionals that strengthen families.
Partners of Help Me Grow WNY work to improve the health, well-being, and learning of young children. We recognize that children’s positive development depends upon strong relationships with the adults in their lives. Ending the stigma around mental illness enables families and caregivers to access mental health supports they may need to provide the best possible environments for children. Our community must value and support its children’s mental health—and also the mental health of those who care for them!
Lynn Pullano | Director
The Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc.
The Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. is a one stop, federally qualified health center whose mission is to provide comprehensive preventative care to underserved communities regardless of their ability to pay. Established in 1999, we expanded to four sites: Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Niagara Falls and Lockport. We have a patient base of about 19,000 throughout Erie and Niagara County and offer a variety of services including adult and pediatric medical, dental, 340b pharmacy, and behavior health. Most recently, we have added physical therapy to the list of services available at our Buffalo location.
The Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. (CHCB) is a safety net for a diverse population in need of access to comprehensive primary care health care. A significant number live at or below the poverty line who are Medicaid and Medicare eligible. Many have been negatively impacted by stereotypes and stigmas and are eligible for protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on age, race, national origin, religious beliefs, gender and sexual orientation, disability (mental or physical), pregnancy and veteran status. It is imperative for us to be at any table where discussions around stigma are being had because our mission is to serve those who typically must endure it.
LaVonne Ansari | CEO at Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc.
Restoration Society, Inc.
Restoration Society, Inc. is a non-profit, peer-operated agency. We provide a variety of same-day, community based, recovery oriented services for individuals with behavioral health conditions and/or housing needs. Our rehabilitative services include: Employment, housing, young adult clubhouse, Recovery Center, Homeless Drop-In, outreach, parenting support, resource linkage, HCBS, and benefits advisement. We provide services 365 days per year and all can be accessed through one of our program locations or in the community. All services are tailored to meet the specific needs of each customer.
I am joining the Anti-Stigma Coalition to partner as united force against stigma. Being part of a passionate group, sharing ideas and resources to discover innovative ways to combat public and self-stigma will impact the isolation, despair, and service delivery system ultimately improving quality lives for those affected by mental health conditions through gaining accesses to needed services and resources.
Nancy Singh, M.A., C.R.C. | Chief Executive Officer
Senior Services of Erie County
The mission of the Department of Senior Services of Erie County is to promote the well-being of all older adults through coordinated and cost-effective services which enhance their independence, dignity, and quality of life.
The CDC estimates that 20% of older adults will experience a mental health concern. However, the stigma associated with a diagnosis can prevent an older person from participating in activities, programs and services that help to maintain independence and well being in the community. As the Department of Senior Services strives to promote healthy lifestyles and enhance the quality of life with older adults, we must address barriers in partnership with the community. By joining the Anti-Stigma campaign, we can help older adults to have the conversation that has been off limits, and engage them through the many beneficial programs the Department has to offer.
Timothy Hogues | Commissioner of Senior Services, Erie County
We envision a future where all individuals who need and want help can easily access Horizon’s effective health and recovery services. Using emerging technologies and best practices, we will provide innovative services beyond the boundaries of WNY. In this future, Horizon is widely recognized as a great employer, having the highest quality staff and providing state of the art effective services.
I think it is important for Horizon to be a member of the Anti-Stigma Coalition because so many people are affected by behavioral health disorders but they are ashamed to seek help. I know people can feel better and can improve their life with treatment.
Anne Constantino | President and CEO
Say Yes To Education Buffalo
Our vision is that every student can graduate high school and college when given the proper supports, resources, and opportunities.
Say Yes Buffalo has joined the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition because its mission falls in line with the work of our organization. At Say Yes Buffalo, we work to remove barriers that prevent children from being their best and support their academic and personal growth by organizing wrap-around supports, such as mental health counseling, access to healthcare and free legal services and more. We are proud to partner with Erie County on this initiative.
Child and Family Services
For more than 140 years, Child and Family Services has dedicated its resources to meet the needs of children and families. One of Western New York’s oldest human service agencies, Child and Family Services fosters safe and healthy environments for children and families in local homes, schools, workplaces and communities.
I work in a business serving people who by many accounts are unjustly viewed as “broken,” as lacking somehow, as “problems” – as burdens of society. Some present with mental health issues and carry the weight, the stigma that relegates them to objects of pity, of fear, and of contempt.
Yet, each person we serve has a unique story to tell – many of these stories are not pretty, nevertheless most are hopeful chronicles of redemption, of recovered lives because somebody cared. I am mindful that anyone of us is one traumatic, life-changing event from needing the types of supports we often consign to “others.”
I am committed to world in which mental healthcare services are deemed a basic human right and it begins with supporting the work of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition. Join the Conversation!
Francisco M. Vasquez, Ph.D. | President and CEO
Peers in Cayuga County
The corporation is formed for the charitable purpose of aiding persons over the age of 18, living in Cayuga County, who have been diagnosed with mental illness and who request recovery based activities that will enhnce their social and practical life skills toward their becoming better community members.
Our organization, Peers in Cayuga County, helps people over the age of 18 who have been diagnosed with some kind of mental illness. Our staff, all volunteers, live with mental health issues as well and understand what it can feel like when people know you have such issues and treat you differently than the people they thing don’t have mental illness. I, personally, have been working on getting people to recognize the fact that just because someone has been diagnosed with mental health issues, doesn’t make them dumb, violent, or dependent on others. Even though I am the President of this organization, I have had board members from different groups treat me as if I didn’t know what I was talking about when I speak. On one occasion, I did a presentation about our organization to let everyone on that board know exactly what I am capable of and what other people with mental health issues are capable of. After that, I have been treated as a respected member of that board. I want to help fight stigma in as many ways as possible. I believe the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition is on the right track to fight stigma and I want our organization to be part of that fight.
Margaret Phinney | President
Deaf Access Services
According to the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), “people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing1 are an underserved cultural and linguistic population within the nation’s mental health system”. However , studies show that due to higher rates of oppression, isolation and even abuse, Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals may experience mental health concerns at higher rates than their hearing counterparts. Deaf Access Services supports the efforts of the Anti-Stigma Campaign to address systemic barriers to care, through increased culturally and linguistically affirmative services, and to educate the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community about the symptoms of mental health and ways to access supports in the community.
Pamela Kefi | Executive Director | Deaf Access Services
Parent Network of Western New York
Parent Network of WNY is a not-for-profit agency that provides education and resources for families of individuals with special needs (birth through adulthood) and for professionals.
Parent Network of WNY provides 1-on-1 Support and education through resources, workshops and support groups to assist families of individuals with disabilities to understand their disability and navigate the support service system.
Parents can lead the way in opening communication with their children’s mental illness.
Susan Barlow | Executive Director | Parent Network of WNY
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Buffalo & Erie County is pleased to become an organizational member of the Anti-Stigma Coalition and to represent the voices of so many families who continue to combat stigma. Eliminating stigma is one of NAMI Buffalo’s key goals and our participation with the Coalition is a natural fit. We look forward to making progress together.
Michele Brooks | Executive Director | National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Buffalo & Erie County