back to August 2017 listing CHP: Canada's Anti-Stigma Mental Health Program Heads to the Bronx; Only 2 Weeks to NYAPRS Conference!

NYAPRS Note: Several years ago, Community Access’ Steve Coe and I served on an advisory group for an organization convened to counter stigma and advance dignity that featured a presentation by Canada’s Michael Pietrus and then director of the National Consortium on Stigma and Empowerment Patrick Corrigan. As the piece below describes, Community Access is helping to bring these approaches to New York City. 
In exactly 2 weeks, the NYAPRS Annual Conference will feature a number of presentations on countering stigma and discrimination as described below, including a keynote address by Dr. Corrigan. We’ve made a few final program adjustments so see the final program below or at Don’t miss this year’s extraordinary program and events: register today at!

NYAPRS Conference 2017 Program Excerpts

Erasing the Stigma of Mental Illness
Research on stigma change may find itself at this point. Advocates have developed and implemented multiple approaches to changing stigma; might some of these be shown to have more beneficial impact than others? This presentation examines both the benefits and the negative unintended consequences of stigma change programs, considering the effects of education versus contact on the stigma of mental illness.
Patrick Corrigan, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL
Introduced by: Eduardo Vega, Dignity Recovery Action! International, San Francisco, CA

Speaking Up: Interrupting Acts of Prejudice
Being culturally competent requires us to act when we hear expressions or jokes that are offensive —yet every day in our communities, families and workplaces we experience stereotypes, racial, ethnic and homophobic slurs and jokes. We need the tools and techniques to interrupt these acts of prejudice. We also need to speak up when we hear people identified as a diagnosis rather than a person. In this interactive workshop we will explore this deeper layer of becoming culturally competent and acting as a change agent in your world.
Ellen Stoller, Consultant, New York, NY
Moneer Zarou, Advocacy Consultant, New York, NY

The Recovery Meme: Can The Model Go Viral?
Those of us in the psychiatric rehabilitation community know that mental illness is not a life sentence.
We know that people recover. But what about the broader community who still resort to outdated solutions including stigmatizing catch phrases like "just take your meds?" How do we create a viral meme that captures the validation, respect and empowerment necessary for recovery? Join us to discuss how our ideas can go mainstream.
Matt Costanzo, Community Access, New York, NY

Wisdom Keepers, Cultural Stigma, and Developing R.O.S.C. Using Peer
Led Liberation Interventions

The presenters will discuss “rebuilding the village” using peer support mechanisms to leverage change.Often change requires making alliances with resistant gatekeepers in stigma prone communities. Life-saving innovative trauma and culturally informed peer led programs will be introduced such as, FARM HEAL USA, Recovery Barbershops & Salons, and Project TAUBAH USA-SANKOFA R I SE (adolescent peer initiatives in Newburgh, NY Hudson Valley, Newark NJ and PA).
Dr. Inman Hamzah Alameen, Dr. Kay Alameen, Crisis Recovery Network, Kerhonkson, NY

Healing Stigma: Prevention and Intervention
Trauma informed approaches in providing service to people with mental health issues involves use of peer providers, and integrating healing practices through the lens of trauma. We'll introduce how a multidisciplinary approach utilizing Evidenced Based Practices including WRAP, Employment Support and Per Providers infused with trauma informed care practices provides a rich source for mitigating and healing internal stigma; understanding of recovery services through the eyes of trauma.
Patty Blum, Janet Vlavianos, Crestwood Behavioral Health, Inc., Sacramento, CA

On the Move Toward Destination Dignity!
A grassroots movement is gaining strength across our nation, a movement dedicated to creating a groundswell all across our society that says ‘enough!’ to the discrimination, defamation, and marginalization of our community! This movement is coming tougher to organize a series of national and local events that are intended to serve as the tipping points that Selma, Seneca Falls, andStonewell represented for African Americans, women, and LGBTQI individuals.
Julie Erdman, Harvey Rosenthal NYAPRS, Albany, NY
Charles Sanchez, Institute for Community Living, New York, NY
Sue Parinello, Aid to the Developmentally Disabled, Riverhead, NY
Jeffery McQueen, Mental Health Association of Nassau County, Inc., Hempstead, NY
Carla Rabinowitz, Wendy Ruffin, Community Access, New York, NY
Eduardo Vega, Dignity Recovery Action! International, San Francisco, CA

Canada's Anti-Stigma Mental Health Program Heads to the Bronx
Crain’s Health Pulse August 30, 2017

A low-cost program that's helping to reduce stigma around mental health among Canadian youth will launch as a pilot at a Bronx high school this fall.

The program, known as Headstrong, involves training students as mental health champions so they can help develop anti-stigma programming at their schools. It also promotes partnerships between schools and organizations so students can hear from people who have experienced mental illness and are managing their symptoms.

The evidence-based program, a project of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, captured the attention of Steve Coe, chief executive of Community Access, a Manhattan nonprofit providing supportive housing and social services to New Yorkers with mental health issues.

"There are youth initiatives within ThriveNYC," the city's $850 million mental health program, said Coe. "But none of those initiatives engaged the kids, and that's what I think is really important."

A version of the Canadian program is now coming to fruition on a micro scale thanks to Nixie Strazza, a 16-year-old who interned at Community Access this summer. The rising sophomore got her school, the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, to agree to be the testing ground.

"At my school we're tolerant, but there's always going to be somebody who says, 'Oh, that person's crazy' or 'They're on meds,'" said Strazza. "So those are things we keep to ourselves, and that can build up more anxiety about it."

Strazza is initially starting the program at her school as a club, which will require hardly any funding. But Coe is looking for support for the program from the city and foundations at a symposium on youth mental health being held at Community Access today. The ultimate goal, he said, is to use anti-stigma efforts to get people to seek help for mental health conditions early in life.

"A lot of the work we do is around job training, employment, getting people to go back to school," Coe said. "All of these problems are linked back to catching people early and really supporting them."

In Canada the Headstrong program centers around summits that offer training and workshops to students, teachers, representatives of local organizations and people who have experienced mental health issues.

The program was launched with a weeklong national summit in the 2014–2015 school year and has been followed by regional summits coordinated by students and organizations with help from Canada's Mental Health Commission.

The commission has been evaluating results with surveys distributed before and after each summit. They include questions related to acceptance and stigma around mental illness. Before attending a regional summit, on average 49% of students surveyed gave answers that showed they didn't stigmatize mental health, according to a 2015 report from the commission.

After the summit that share rose to 62.2%.

Although funding from the commission has shrunk because of budget cuts—from $750,000 in its first year to $160,000 in 2017—the program has grown throughout the country through new funding streams, said Micheal Pietrus, director of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

"Once government agencies and foundations and stakeholder groups begin to see the impact, it's easier for those organizations to get donations and support, and fund it on their own," said Pietrus