Far From The Tree

MHA, in collaboration with The Holocaust Museum & Center for Tolerance and Education, Jawonio and Rockland County Pride Center, is hosting a movie screening of Far From the Tree, a film which examines the experiences of families in which parents and children are profoundly different from one another in a variety of ways.


We invite you to join us on December 6 from 7:00-9:30 pm at Clarkstown High School South for a screening of this beautiful film based on the New York Times bestseller by Andrew Solomon.  There will be a Q & A with Director, Rachel Dretzin, following the screening.  This event is FREE and open to the public.


We hope you will join us on December 6th for the movie screening of this great film!  For more information about this event, contact Velvet Reda at extension 257.

Quality Improvement

MHA Welcomes a New Department

By Nicole Annunziata, Director of Quality Improvement


Quality Improvement is a brand new department that was introduced to the agency in May 2018, although not a new concept to MHA. Over the past seven months, we have been able to closely track quality measures across the agency and within each unique department. This allows each program director to receive data on his/her program outcomes to help inform changes that may be needed to enhance the services our members receive. Collaboration within the departments has increased with a refreshed focus on data and how it helps inform new and improved workflows.

Initiatives such as the foundational belief of Zero Suicide, Tobacco Cessation Programs, initiation and engagement of treatment and reducing emergency department visits are just a few of the common goals of MHA and our community partners. We have had the pleasure of participating in various workgroups in the county, such as the Rockland Community of Care, led by our partners at Montefiore Hudson Valley Collaborative. This has strengthened our relationships with other Rockland based community organizations, served as a platform for sharing best practices and allows the members of our community to gain additional access to resources.  Although Quality Improvement has a large focus on data and outcome measures, our common goal is still to ensure that the members of our community are receiving all services that are available to them and that any social determinant of health needs are met.

We are excited to welcome Nicole Annunziata as the Director of Quality Improvement!  Formerly, Nicole was the Director of MHA’s Adult Care Management Department.

2018 REDC Service Provider of the Year Award

MHA was the proud recipient of the Service Provider of the Year award from the Rockland Economic Development Corporation (REDC). The REDC honored companies, organizations and individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to Rockland’s economic vitality and have substantially enhanced the local business climate. It is an incredible honor that acknowledges MHA’s contribution to the vitality of the Rockland community and the lives of the more than 5,000 people we are privileged to positively impact each year.
SERVICE PROVIDER OF THE YEAR: The Mental Health Association of Rockland has a 67 year history of providing outstanding services to more than 50,000 Rockland residents since its inception in 1951. It has grown from a grassroots organization to the premier provider of behavioral health services in the community, engaging more than 5,000 individuals annually. MHA consistently strives to improve the quality of life for those affected by mental health and/or substance use issues. MHA offers a vast array of therapeutic services, with most programs offered in people’s homes, schools, and workplaces. The operational principles include passion, commitment, innovation, collaboration, and fiscal responsibility. The staff of 200 employees work tirelessly to connect people, educate families, and rebuild lives each and every day. We look forward to a bright future, continuing to serve those who need us most and contributing to Rockland being the best community it can be.

Mental Health & Wellness 101

By Wendy Blanchard


With Mental Health Awareness week approaching, the MHA of Rockland is excited to announce the release of the Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.’s (MHANYS) training program, Mental Health & Wellness 101! MHA’s Wendy Blanchard was honored to be a part of creating this training as a resource and support for the newly implemented New York State Mental Health Education Law which began on July 1. New York is the first state to implement this law.
MHANYS asks “Why is it important to talk about mental health and wellness?”
The median time between the onset of mental illness (when symptoms first appear) and when an individual gets appropriate treatment is 10 years.  During that time, a person is likely experiencing periods of increased symptomology and periods of wellness.  Mental Health and recovery are dependent on an individual’s ability to recognize and manage where they are each day on the continuum between wellness and illness, and to take care accordingly. Education and early intervention promotes wellness and leads to better outcomes.
MHA of Rockland is now offering training sessions which are approximately 90 minutes long, including a Q & A session.
Goals of the Training:
  • Increase basic knowledge of mental health to help reduce stigma.
  • Understand Mental Health as a continuum of wellness that defines us every day — it is illness, recovery and all of the space in between.
  • Promote wellness, treatment seeking behavior, recovery and self-care.
Ideas for training location/audience:
  • Community events or civic organizations (libraries, wellness conferences, etc.)
  • Workplace wellness (chamber of commerce events, business “lunch and learn”, etc.)
  • Staff development (schools, hospitals, community service providers, etc.)
For more information, or to schedule a Mental Health and Wellness 101 training, please contact Wendy Blanchard, M.S., CHHC, CPS, Client & Family Advocate and Community Educator at blanchardw@mharockland.org, or 845-267-2172 Ext. 296.  Wendy will also be a speaker and panelist at the MHANYS Healthy Minds, Healthy Schools, Healthy New York Conference on October 17th in Albany!

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Join us for “The Ripple Effect”

By Sonia Wagner, EVP


In the many years when I worked at a crisis response center, answering hotline calls from people who had suicidal thoughts, I was often amazed by a common theme – their sense of being invisible.


I had expected the feelings of isolation and hopelessness that callers also related to me, but I was taken aback by something that seemed to run still deeper and often against all evidence to the contrary – their conviction that no one noticed their pain or, by extension, them.


I have known many people who have struggled with depression, and their withdrawal from life was quite palpable to nearly everyone around them – the phone calls that went unreturned, the food that went uneaten, the parties that we were missed, the sick days that were called in. I have also known people who could feign happiness, at least for a short time. However, after the party was over and the guests had gone home but well before the dishes were put away, the heaviness would set in and the energy required for all of that levity would visibly take its toll.


Many who struggle with suicidal feelings believe that no one notices these things. Without a doubt, many of their friends, relatives and colleagues have noticed and may be quite worried but are afraid to bring up their concerns or simply don’t know how to pursue the issue when they are told “Thanks, I’m fine – just a bit tired.”


Eventually, people stop asking questions. For the depressed person, this may falsely translate to “nobody notices or cares.” Kevin Hines, a passionate mental health advocate, leaped off the Golden Gate Bridge at the age of 19. Being among a very small number to survive this jump, he subsequently described his bus trip to the bridge, during which he was in tears. At the time, it seemed to him that nobody noticed his distress; at least, nobody approached him. He told himself that if anyone said anything of concern to him, he would not jump.


It is hard to imagine that people sitting near him didn’t notice his crying. Perhaps they were afraid to talk with an emotional stranger, or perhaps the bystander effect kicked in and they felt sure that someone else would intervene. Whatever the reason, Kevin Hines felt increasingly invisible and ultimately jumped.


How does it help to understand that a false sense of invisibility is a common ingredient in suicidal thinking? It has given me much greater comfort in asking questions, commenting in a gentle voice on what I’m seeing in someone that concerns me, and not being dissuaded by their trying to put me off. When we overcome our own discomfort and inquire about thoughts of suicide to someone who is struggling, offer help or insist on getting help, we address the fundamental human need of that person to be seen.



Sonia Wagner is the Executive Vice President of The Mental Health Association of Rockland County. The agency is co-hosting a showing of the film “The Ripple Effect,” featuring Kevin Hines, on September 26 at 7:30 pm at Nanuet Stadium 12 & RPX. To order tickets, go to https://gathr.us/screening/24062