The mission of the Say Yes Buffalo partnership is to strengthen the Western New York economy by investing in the education of Buffalo’s future workforce. The primary goals of the partnership are to convene the school district, parents, teachers, administrators, state, city and county governments, higher education, community based organizations, businesses and foundations to increase high school and postsecondary completion rates. Our vision is that every student can graduate high school and college when given the proper supports, resources, and opportunities.

We recently spoke with Betsy Behrend, senior director for operations & communications, about the Let’s Talk Stigma campaign. 

Q: Why did your organization choose to become a member of The Anti-Stigma Coalition?

Acknowledging the importance of mental health in addition to physical health is critical if we are all to reach our full potential. Say Yes Buffalo is dedicated to removing barriers for students and their families in Buffalo so that all students graduate high school and earn a postsecondary degree and we know that sometimes those barriers are related to mental health. We also know that for many of those we serve there is stigma attached to talking about these issues and that can be a further barrier. Participating in the Anti-Stigma coalition gives us a platform to connect with other local organizations dedicated to mental health and resources to share with our staff so that we are better positioned to support Buffalo students and their families.

Q: How does the campaign align with your work?

In addition to supporting the mental health of those that we serve, Say Yes Buffalo also actively seeks out ways to support its staff in managing their own mental health. With support from leadership, Say Yes staff established a Self-Care Committee that regularly shares information about the importance of self-care and mental health as well as provides activities to help staff practice self-care.

Q: What impact is the Campaign having in the community?

Addressing stigma attached to mental health is an enormous task but an important one. The work that this campaign has done to create a platform for advocates to come together and speak out is a critical step if we are to end stigma in our community. We are grateful to the funders and partners supporting this work – it is only through our collective efforts that we can create the circumstances necessary so that all in our community can have their mental health needs met and thus have the opportunity to reach their full potential.