Hilfiger, Schumer and more come together for mental health awareness


ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — As we near the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, 18 News Anchor Jordan Norkus reached out to leaders across New York and Pennsylvania to find out what mental health means to them.

Each year, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness.

“Mental health involves a state of cognitive, behavioral and emotional stability,” said Georgia Verdier, President of the Elmira-Corning NAACP.

“Mental health means caring for our whole well-being, including helping others who are struggling with mental health issues,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “This pandemic has hurt so many New Yorkers across the Southern Tier and many have borne the burden of caring for their mental health on their own. There should be no stigma in discussing mental health, nor should there be any barriers in getting help. That’s why I put $5 billion in funding for mental health and substance abuse services in the American Rescue Plan, and I will continue to fight until all Americans can get the care they need. Be sure to check in on those in your life who may be struggling, and also make time for your own self-care. We’re all in this together. Happy Mental Health Awareness Month, everyone.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness each year—only 45% get help.

“Mental healthcare is a right,” said U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

“Mental health is critical to good health,” said Pennsylvania State Rep. Clint Owlett.

“Mental health is essential,” said Elmira-native Tommy Hilfiger, Founder and Principal Designer of Tommy Hilfiger. “It is just as necessary to our overall well-being as physical health and it should matter to all of us. It is important that we educate ourselves and increase awareness for it so we can help remove the stigma around mental illness.”

“Mental health is important as physical health. If you were to have a bad fall and break a leg, you would go see your doctor. If you were worried about your heart, or if you had problems with your eyes, or maybe you had a toothache, you would go see a doctor or a dentist,” said Dr. Ann Sullivan, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health. “If you’re feeling depressed or if you’re anxious, it is so important that you get help. Talk to your doctor; or you can call a helpline, like NY Project Hope Emotional Support Helpline. Remember, there is no health without mental health.”

“Mental health is everything,” said 18 News Anchor Matt Paddock. “It’s an invisible battle that can control your highest of highs and lowest of lows.”

“Mental health, to me, is public safety. Mental health, to me, means keeping all of our citizens safe when their bodies are not allowing them to be safe,” said Steuben County Sheriff Jim Allard. “Finding ways to get them the treatment they need, to get the diagnosis they need, and to help them find ways to be better.”

“Mental health means balance,” said New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

“Balanced,” said Elmira Mayor Dan Mandell.

“Finding a way to maintain a balance in your life,” said Dr. Charles Lindsay, President of Elmira College.

“If I had to describe mental health in one word, I would choose balance,” said Steuben County Public Health Director Darlene Smith. “I think that balance is important because you need both physical health and mental health in order to lead a healthy lifestyle. One without the other it isn’t doing anyone much good. So mental health in a word, to me, is balance—meaning one thing, I think, leads to another.”

“Mental health is undervalued,” said Scott Free, Program Director and Host for WINK 106.

“Mental health requires compassion,” said Dr. Charles Patterson, President of Mansfield University.

“Mental health is a battle,” said 18 News Anchor Chelsea Lovell. “It’s something people have to work and fight against every single day.”

“Mental health is an essential component of well-being, both for the individual and for our society,” said Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn.

“Mental health is essential,” said New York Assemblyman Phil Palmesano. “I think this issue has become more in the forefront, given what we’ve been through over the past year—especially with families and our children in our schools who’ve been out of school and remote, not seeing their friends, not being in-person learning for so much of it. I think that’s really taken a toll on our children and our students throughout our region and across this state, which is why we want so desperately to get them back in the classroom. We know that studying remotely didn’t work, hasn’t worked. We had too many problems with, obviously, the access to the internet and reliable internet service, but our kids do better when they’re in the classroom. It wasn’t just that it took a toll academically, I really believe this has taken a toll mentally on these children—our children, and our students. We really just need to be supportive of them and do everything we can. Paying attention to this issue has to be a top priority for all of us as parents, teachers, educators and then the public, all together. That’s why, when you think of one word—when I thought about this, we talked about essential workers, essential jobs. That’s why the word that came to me is ‘Mental health is essential.'”

“Mental health matters,” said Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.

“Mental health means being selfish, but not in a bad way,” said 18 News Reporter Kevin Gfeller. “Making your mental health a priority.”

“Ending the stigma,” said Dr. William George, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Arnot Health.

“Mental health is good for the soul,” said Rep. Fred Keller, R-Pa.

“Kindness to yourself,” said Dr. Hannah Bushnell, Psychiatrist at Arnot Health.

“Accepting yourself,” said 18 Storm Team Meteorologist Grant Chungo.

“Mental health means happiness,” said Hornell Mayor John Buckley.

“Being happy with yourself and with life, in general,” said 18 Storm Team Chief Meteorologist Shelby Clark.

“The word I’ve chosen is discrimination and that’s because mental health disorders do not discriminate,” said Anthony Alvernaz, Deputy Chief of the Elmira Police Department. “It does not matter your age, your sex, your race, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, appearance or even your profession. We are all susceptible to developing a mental health-type disorder, or at times experiencing emotional distress. The National Alliance on Mental Health estimates that one in five Americans suffer from a mental health disorder. Of those, 19% also struggle with addiction, some type of substance abuse issue. 99% of those are believed to be an anxiety type-related affliction, with 17% of all cases affecting members of our youth. 2020 was an extremely trying time for our nation and the world. As we begin to turn a corner, let’s be sure to check up on our co-workers that we might not have seen here recently, our friends, our family, our community members. Let’s all make sure that we can make a difference by bringing awareness and support to this extremely human issue.”

“It’s okay to not be okay,” said 18 News Anchor Jordan Norkus.

“Everyone’s life matters, your life matters,” said 18 Sports Director Andy Malnoske. “We all have something to offer this world. Good mental health is finding mental strength.”

“Mental health means adaptability and resilience,” said Dr. Danielle Terry, Director of Behavioral Science at Guthrie Family Services.

“Mental health means victory,” said 18 News Reporter Sharif D. King. “Mind over matter. Once you win in your mind, you overcome any obstacle.”

“Mental health is empowering,” said Kamala Keeley, President and C.E.O. of the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce.

“Courage,” said Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler.

“Mental health is hope,” said 18 News Anchor Zach Wheeler.

If you or someone you love are experiencing a mental health crisis or having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You matter. Your life matters. You are not alone.

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