What’s Great in our State: A forum to celebrate Children’s Mental Health Awareness

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Date(s) - May 8
1:30 pm - 4:30 pm

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Join us at this free event honoring individuals and programs that are successfully addressing the issues of children’s mental health. These include work on early identification, outreach, family education, providing mental health awareness in schools and successful intervention on behalf of children and their families. 

Along with learning about our 2018 honorees, the program will also feature:

Keynote Speaker: Peter Gray, PhD

Peter Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College who has conducted and published research in neuroendocrinology, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education.  He is author of an internationally acclaimed introductory psychology textbook (Psychology, Worth Publishers, now in its 7th edition).  His research now focuses on the role of play in human evolution and how children educate themselves, through play and exploration, when they are free to do so. He has expanded on these ideas in his book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life. He also authors a regular blog called Freedom to Learn, for Psychology Today magazine, and is president of the nonprofit organization, the Alliance for Self-Directed Education.

Click here to learn more about the book Free to Learn.

Young Adult Voice of Recovery: Dianna Paige

Dianna Paige is currently a student at Hobart and William Smith College. Dianna has also been a passionate mental health advocate dedicated to raising awareness among her peers. Dianna has been a leader on mental health literacy since she was a high school student. During her time in high school, Dianna created a presentatation and video to talk to students about depression and other mental health issues prevelent among adolescents. When she was 19 years old, Dianna filmed an acclaimed TEDx Talk “I am Depressed” where she shares openly about her about personal struggles with mental illness and covers topics including depression, anxiety, and suicide. Dianna is also an active member of the NAMI-NYS Young Adult Network.

Click here to watch Dianna’s TEDx Talk. 

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2018 Honorees

Individuals selected:

  • Mr. Mark Laurrie –Mr. Laurrie is the superintendent of the Niagara Falls School District. The Creating a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative – Healthy Behaviors work group who nominated him describes Mr. Laurrie as someone who “serves as a true champion for our community as a whole and consistently strives to ensure his efforts are data informed and sustainable.” Among his many accomplishments is the introduction of several wellness initiatives to the school district including: Mental Health First Aid, Sources of Strength, Drug/Opiate Use Prevention, Unified Sports- which is a partnership with students with disabilities and scholar athletes, and implementation of a Mobile Health Van as part of Comprehensive Health Education.
  •  Ms. Cindy Misrock –Ms. Misrock is a social worker who has worked for the Freeport School District, in Hempstead NY, since 1990. She is described as a person who has exceeded in implementing the theme, “Healthy Minds, Healthy Children, and Youth” throughout her career at Freeport Schools. She has brought many prevention initiatives to the school district including: Developing Understanding of Self and Others; an Annual Health Expo; and the CAPS Steer Clear of Bullies and Safety Rules and has been teaching wellness strategies to students in classrooms, as well as during individual and group counseling sessions. Recently Ms. Misrock was trained at the Child Institute and is supervising the Primary Project program and Child Associate at Bayview Avenue:

 Programs selected:

  •  APIC (Access to Psychiatry through Intermediate Care) – APIC is a behavioral health resource in Western New York that focuses on the emotional health of children and young adults with Autism and Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities. The mission of the APIC team is to remove barriers to treatment for persons with developmental disabilities. The team meets with clients in their homes and community and partners with all of the entities that play a role in the life of the person and their family. The nominators for this program state, “The values, culture and innovation of the leadership of the Medical Director, Dr. Michael Cummings and Clinical Director, Janell Van Cleve make this team successful. Both accept any challenge that comes their way and they are driven to break down barriers and help their patients in whatever way they can.”
  •  Children of Promise – Children of Promise, NYC is a co-located after school and summer camp program as well as an Article 31 Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Clinic uniquely designed to meet the needs of children of incarcerated parents. This model destigmatizes psychotherapeutic services and makes treatment accessible to over 350 families in Kings County and the surrounding area. Many of these families would otherwise not seek mental health treatment due to the fear of engagement with social service agencies and the shame and silence associated with parental incarceration. The organization’s trauma-focused and anti-oppressive lens informs its community mental health model to holistically support families affected by incarceration. Through its holistic response to the trauma of parental incarceration, Children of Promise, NYC leads the nation in implementing a model that holds the potential to break the cycle of mass intergenerational incarceration.
  •  Mental Health Juvenile Justice Program –The Mental Health Juvenile Justice (MH/JJ) Program began in Orange County in 2014 as a collaborative effort between Rehabilitation Support Services, local police departments, probation and social services to address the needs of youth in the juvenile justice system.  This program is a front-end clinical program that aims to identify youth with mental health and/or substance abuse needs and divert them into treatment as early in the process as possible to avoid further penetration into the juvenile justice system and possible detention and/or out of home placement.   Since inception, the MH/JJ program has been expanded to cover all three Orange County cities and is available to youth outside of these high-needs areas at the request of Probation.  Statistics have shown that participating youth have experienced decreased recidivism, detention stays and out of home placement.   This program has also created a strong working relationship between law enforcement and the social services community. 
  • Walter Panas Warr;ors –In 2015, a group of students, at the Walter Panas High School in northern Westchester County, approached their school  counselor, emboldened by their desire to “stomp out the stigma of mental illness.” With their counselor’s support they channeled their own pain and empathy for others into a vital club. The Warr;ors embarked on a campaign to educate and change perceptions about Mental Health in their 1,000 student school. At a powerful assembly they presented scientific information about brain function.  They have also written a short play detailing the experiences of students in various places on the mental health continuum. Through these strategies they implement their Mission Statement: “To inspire, lead and educate others about Mental Health and Wellness. We aim to combat stereotypes through school-based trainings/ education, and act as a link to resources for our Lakeland Community. Communication-Collaboration-Connection”.
  •  PAX Good Behavior Game at Contact Community Services  –Contact Community Services works with the Syracuse City School District to implement the PAX Good Behavior Game (PAX GBG) in 9 elementary schools. The goal of this program is to build the capacity of sustainable school and community infrastructures by improving health and academic outcomes this Evidenced Based Program. PAX is a universal prevention approach that has significant effects on substance abuse and mental health outcomes, as well as academic, behavioral, and social-emotional. The pilot, supported by a partnership between the NYS Education Department and the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, began with the start of the 2016-2017 school year and is currently in its second year. 

Click here to watch the episode of NAMI-NYS produced TV show Mental Health Now. This episode discusses the 2017 What’s Great in Our State event with members of the event’s steering committee and previous honoree Katherine Wallace. 


 Children’s Mental Health Resources:



NIMH’s The Brain’s Inner Workings: Activities for Grades 9 through 12



Families Together in New York State

2018 Planning Committee Partners

Green Ribbon

Organizational NYS-AIMH Members

We welcome all organizations that share our mission of supporting the mental health of young children.

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