Assemblywoman Gunther Urges Governor to Sign Anti-Stigma Check-off Bill

Joined by MHANYS CEO, Glenn Liebman and advocates from Orange and Sullivan Counties
August 26, 2015
Photo [left to right]: Elise Gold, Jewish Family Services of Orange County; Nadia Allen, Mental Health Association in Orange County; Nolly Climes, Rehabilitation Support Services; Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther; Darcie Miller, Commissioner of Mental Health and Social Services for Orange County; Peggy Spagnola, Mental Health Association in Orange County and NAMI; Glenn Liebman, Mental Health Association in New York State
Middletown, NY – Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D,I,WF-Forestburgh) was joined by Glenn Liebman, CEO of the Mental Health Association in New York State (MHANYS), and local providers of services for individuals with mental health needs to urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation creating a tax check-off to fund efforts to fight mental health stigma (A.833-A/S.632-A).

Currently, New Yorkers can make gifts to any one of eight separate programs, many of them for health conditions such as breast and prostate cancer, but also for fish and wildlife management, as well as the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center.

“Mental illness is a recoverable or manageable illness with appropriate treatment,” said Assemblywoman Gunther. “Eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness will clear the way to many more people getting the treatment they need and living healthy, productive lives.”

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, one in five adults in America have a mental illness, yet only about 40% received care in the last year. 20% of all children ages 13 to 18 live with a mental health condition, and half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14, 75% by the age of 24.

Glenn Liebman, CEO of MHANYS said, “Despite the fact that mental illness impacts virtually everyone either directly or indirectly, stigma and discrimination continue to be pervasive in our communities. A mental health tax check off bill will send a strong message forward that New York State believes that people with mental illness and their loved ones should be accorded the same respect and dignity as other people in our community. We urge Governor Cuomo to sign the mental health tax check off bill into law.”

“As a society, we’re too quick to define people with a mental health problem as their illness – somebody is a schizophrenic. They are depressed. They are bipolar,” said Assemblywoman Gunther. “Imagine the outcry if we did the same for physical health conditions. My great hope is to create better understanding of mental illness and help get more people the treatment they need and deserve.”