Brown Proudly Supports the Harris Project and Raising Awareness on the Link Between Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders

Assemblyman Keith P. Brown (R,C-Northport) is proud to support “the harris project,” a non-profit organization founded by Stephanie Marquesano, which is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders in adults, teens and children statewide. Stephanie’s son, Harris Blake Marquesano, tragically died by accidental overdose at the young age of 19. Throughout Harris’ struggle with mental health and substance use disorders, his health care providers failed him time and time again, neglecting to address his mental health needs and substance use disorder in an integrated and constructive manner.

The only non-profit organization dedicated to Co-Occurring Disorders awareness, the harris project provides opportunities to increase understanding, raise awareness and transform the system of care to meet the needs of those struggling with Co-Occurring Disorders and help support their families. Stephanie has made it her life’s mission to create a new standard of care for Co-Occurring Disorders, and as Ranking Member of the Assembly Committee for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and a concerned father, Brown is proud to join this mission and help raise awareness.

“I am outraged that Co-Occurring Disorders are so misunderstood by the general public,” said Brown. “This short film created for the harris project really hits home and demonstrates the difficulty kids today are experiencing.”

“Further, I am appalled that our current system of care is so flawed. As a strong advocate for mental health and substance use disorders on Long Island and throughout New York State, I am proud to help honor Stephanie’s son and promote her cause so Co-Occurring Disorders are no longer swept under the rug. Diagnosing both disorders and understanding how they can develop in our children and teens can help prevent these issues from following our vulnerable youth into adulthood. I am tired of seeing fatal overdoses occur in our communities. I am sick of seeing mental health issues in our students go ignored as they do not know where to turn, who to trust or when to ask for help.”

“I am now calling on state and county leaders to educate themselves on Co-Occurring Disorders, so we can intervene and create lasting policy changes that address issues in mental health and substance use that have persisted for far too long. Enough is enough!” Brown concluded.

“While I am grateful for continued efforts by lawmakers and agency leadership to bring Co-Occurring Disorders to the forefront, I long for a strategic statewide vision committed to taking the steps necessary to build a system of care that truly integrates and addresses Co-Occurring Disorders from prevention to early intervention to treatment to sustainable recovery. Harris was not alone: one in two individuals with substance use issues also faces mental health challenges. As deaths related to overdose, suicide and alcohol continue to climb, we can and must prioritize Co-Occurring Disorders to save lives and improve outcomes. Thank you, Assemblyman Brown, as well as those in the Legislature who recognize the urgency. This is truly a watershed moment for New York State,” said Stephanie Marquesano, founder of the harris project.

Editor’s Note: To view the short film, “You Don’t Know The Half Of It” from the harris project, please visit their Web site.