We recently spoke with Mary Skorupa, Executive Director, Children’s Mental Health Coalition of WNY, Inc. whose organization is a founding member of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition.
Q: What is the mission of your organization?
The Children’s Mental Health Coalition of Western New York is a grass roots, parent-run organization committed to ensuring that families of children with behavioral, social, emotional, developmental and learning challenges have access to needed information, support, and services within 19 counties in Western New York. We do this by promoting awareness of children’s mental health issues, by bringing parental concerns to service planning tables and our legislators, and by fostering equal partnerships between parents/caregivers and child and youth service providers of all types.
Q: How does the stigma of mental illness affect the children and families you work with?
As a family-run, family-driven organization, our experience with the stigma of mental illness is personal. We know the sting of having a loved one shamed or dishonored as a result of their illness. We have lived with the brick wall that stigma places before us leaving our families with needs unmet and help unsolicited. Because of this, we work with passion and deep intent to provide support, collective action, partnership, and strength, in achieving the care necessary for all children and families.
Q: Why are you involved in the Join the Conversation campaign?
We believe unquestionably that the reduction of stigma will make for enhanced legislation, enriched policies, and advanced treatment to improve the lives of all those within our community.