Captiol News from The Assembly Minority Conference
The Assembly Minority Conference

You Are Not Alone: A Call For Mental Health Awareness

Legislative Column from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

Regardless of individual diagnosis, personal struggles, or abilities, everyone deserves to know they are “More Than Enough.” The National Alliance on Mental Illness is observing National Mental Health Awareness Month with its “More Than Enough” campaign to recognize the importance of mental health and raise awareness for the millions of people affected by mental illness. The message is clear – everyone is worthy of life, love and healing. Together, we can continue the conversation and work to remove the stigmas associated with mental illness to inspire better care and resources for those in need.

According to reports, approximately 50 million Americans experienced a form of mental illness in 2020. But, disturbingly, almost one-third of those adult individuals reported they were unable to receive treatment. Thankfully, the discussion surrounding mental health care is changing. The Legislature is recognizing our community’s mental health needs and actively seeking solutions that provide greater access to health care and services. Members of the Assembly Minority Conference have been proud and active leaders in policy discussions centered around establishing greater access to mental health programs for all New Yorkers.

In recent years, the unique challenges of the pandemic were particularly difficult on young adolescent mental health. Mental health-related emergencies rose dramatically and over 20% of adolescents have experienced seriously debilitating mental health issues that can impact their ability to function at school or work, at home or socially. Opening the dialogue and creating connections with youth about mental health challenges is critical to the success of supporting and caring for young people.

Locally, Oswego Health is partnering with local schools, organizations and mental health professionals to amplify the discussion about youth mental health. Throughout the month of May, they are hosting numerous programs and awareness campaigns focused on education about available mental health and wellness resources, including the “A Community Conversation Around Mental Health” event on Wednesday, May 17 at Oswego High School. The program will include a resource fair followed by a teen and adult panel discussion facilitated by Dan Reidenberg, Psy.D., Executive Director, SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education).

If you are struggling with mental health issues, you are not alone. Life’s journey may be paved with difficulties but there is always cause for hope. Equipped with the tools and resources to help, the journey to treatment and recovery can begin with assistance from local health care providers and mental health experts. In Oswego County, mental health and crisis intervention services are available here; in Onondaga County, mental health and crisis services are available here; and in Jefferson County, mental health and mental hygiene information is available here. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, self-care is important and mental health is equally important as your physical well-being.