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Dear Friends and Supporters,

As we move toward the close of 2018 we are seeing growing evidence of the effects of unaddressed mental illness. In 2015, The National Institute of Mental Health reported that 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and 75% by age 24. The study also reveals that an untreated mental disorder can lead to a more severe, more difficult to treat illness, and to the development of co-occurring mental illnesses.

Approximately 1 in 5 people in Tompkins County has a diagnosed mental health condition and according to the Tompkins County Community Health Assessment in 2013, 26% of middle school students and 30% of high school students reported feeling sad or depressed most days. With data indicating that nearly 1 in 5 people within our own community suffer from a diagnosable mental illness, no family is left untouched.

A lack of available adolescent mental health services is one prominent barrier to treatment — another is stigma. Mental illnesses are sometimes spoken of in whispers, even within families, masking the true impact and facilitating this stigma and discrimination. A vast number of youth at high-risk for suicide or other mental health concerns are left untreated — largely because of the stigma associated with treatment. Since adolescents tend to be particularly vulnerable, they are very prone to adopting unhealthy coping mechanisms to reduce their negative feelings.

At MHATC, we provide adolescents with the wellness tools they need to reduce anxiety, identify triggers, and avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms. Our Youth Services Program serves as the foundation for normalizing conversations about mental health and helps young people to disassociate seeking help with weakness. In this program adolescents build a greater awareness of mental well-being, and the ability to recognize warning signs in themselves and others – potentially saving a life. Our programs include facilitating support groups in the adolescent behavioral unit of Cayuga Medical Center, Youth Mental Health First Aid training, outreach to schools, and involving young people in advocacy. This gives youth who have been touched by the mental health system a voice, where they can help affect change.

Our Family Support Services Program provides services to support and empower families so they can improve the quality of their lives and help their children to achieve their full potential within the family network and community.

As we hear the voices of our community’s adolescents calling out for help, we ask you to consider making a gift to help us in the fight against stigma and allow us to continue to offer resources and advocacy. Your ongoing support will bolster our current programing and allow MHATC to add services that are desperately needed in our community. These services truly make a difference in people’s lives. It’s only through the generous and compassionate support of people like you, that our reach can expand and young lives can find hope and healing.

With Sincere Appreciation,

Josephine Cohen
Executive Director