A Message from our CEO and Board President
Driving Towards Resilience is more than just the name of one of our newest services – it’s also a motivating factor embedded in all that we do at The Mental Health Association of Westchester.
One of the key elements of building resilience is our ability to embrace the paradoxes of life. Just as trauma and post-traumatic growth can co-exist, so can grief and gratitude, loss and gain, vulnerability and strength. Fully experiencing and welcoming the “ands” in life is vital. It is a strength that contributes to post-traumatic growth, an experience of emerging from trauma with new strength. And it is a resiliency that we see each day in our work, enabling thousands of individuals to make progress in their unique recovery journeys.
Charlotte Östman, CEO
Embracing the “and” is a daily exercise for our agency. We’ve mourned the death of beloved clients, and we’ve joyfully celebrated at others’ weddings. We’ve helped pack up a foster child’s belongings as they move to a new placement, and we’ve hugged parents who have worked hard to welcome their children back into their home. We’ve been stunned, outraged and deeply wounded by racially and ethnically motivated violence and prejudice. And, through our new Driving Towards Resilience program, we’ve increased our commitment to reaching those who are impacted by social injustices and experience common barriers to care.
As we continue to navigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, social injustices, systemic racism, and mass violence, we continue to ground our work in resilience and the knowledge that post-traumatic growth is attainable.
In July 2021, we published an article in Behavioral Health News about the importance of resilience in promoting post-pandemic growth. And our podcast – Surfacing: The Meaning in the Story – has welcomed individuals from all walks of life, who bravely share their personal stories. Through our own work and through professional research, we know that resilience can – and should – be nurtured and built up by anyone, regardless of their background or life experiences.
The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have increased our awareness of the importance of resilience. Throughout 2020, we hosted several Community Conversations on the topic of resilience and post traumatic growth.
As you’ll see in this year’s Impact Report, all of the life-changing work we do promotes the concept of “building resilience." Our impact demonstrates how our services – and our staff – support individuals as they help themselves, their families, and their communities find their strength.
Mary F. Foster, Board President
We are grateful for the commitment of our community through all of these “ands”. On behalf of our Board, staff and all those engaged in services at MHA, thank you for recognizing that high quality behavioral health care is essential for all and for supporting our mission.
Chief Executive Officer
Mary F. Foster
We Launched our Driving Towards Resilience program in Westchester and Rockland
We Were Selected to Provide Youth ACT Services to Children and their Families
Our Court Appointed Special Advocates Program Expanded to Putnam County
MHA was Awarded the Platinum Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health
We Were Named a Best Place to Work in Westchester County
MHA was Chosen to Provide Support Services through NY Project Hope
MHA Established Two Mobile Crisis Response Teams in Westchester County
Services were delivered.
*The highest number of services ever delivered in one year
Utilizing lived experience to help others...
Individuals with their own lived experience of mental health challenges and recovery provide a unique source of support to others on their journeys. MHA offers a Peer Specialist Training to prepare individuals to become certified by New York State, and Peer Specialists are embedded in many of our programs and services. Founded in 1958, the Sterling Community Center offers an array of peer-led and peer-informed supports, services and social activities, as well as a food pantry, café, computer lab and more.
Hover over the numbers below to learn more about how peers make an impact:
More than 1,500 sessions were held with Recovery Specialists in 2021
Today, Toni* enjoys a close relationship with her adult daughter and has gained a great purpose in life through helping to raise her granddaughter in a safe and joyful environment, which she herself did not have as a child. Toni was the victim of severe sexual trauma for most of her adolescence, resulting in feelings of detachment and struggles with agoraphobia. While working with a Recovery Specialist in the Westchester Recovery Network, she found employment and was able to go into the community on her own to take care of errands and make therapy appointments. At the onset of the pandemic, increasing challenges with agoraphobia would have been an expectable concern. However, Toni’s blossoming confidence and strength helped her adapt to the challenging situation by becoming a five-day-a-week babysitter for her toddler grandchild. The support of her Recovery Specialist made a tremendous impact on not only Toni’s life, but that of her daughter and granddaughter.
*All names have been changed for confidentiality
MHA received $500,000 in funding to expand our Intensive & Sustained Engagement & Treatment (INSET) services to Rockland, Orange and Sullivan Counties.
“You have accepted me for who I am and met me where I was, without judging me.” When Frankie* first engaged in INSET services, he was staying at a drop-in shelter. Despite inconsistent engagement with prior mental health treatment, Frankie remained devoted to goals of obtaining housing and benefits while being more consistent with his therapy. INSET staff have been working closely with Frankie’s care manager and therapist to assist him in achieving these goals. He is now a resident of the shelter and looking forward to securing housing through the County’s Single Point of Access process. One year prior to working with INSET, Frankie had 33 Emergency Room visits for mental health-related issues. Since working with INSET, he has only visited the Emergency Room seven times, mirroring a common outcome of decreased hospitalizations for INSET participants.
26 individuals completed MHA's Peer Specialist Training in 2021.
After Tom* was released from prison, he experienced difficulty with re-entry to living and working in the community. He lived in a shelter while seeking employment and participated in an outpatient substance use treatment program. When he first engaged with WRN-E, he did not have a cell phone, which made it difficult for him to attend any virtual appointments. With the help of his Recovery Specialist, Tom obtained both a cell phone and a one-time personal needs grant. After experiencing first-hand how helpful Peer Support can be, Tom was encouraged to participate in MHA’s own Peer Specialist Training program. His Recovery Specialist assisted him with his application, which was approved, and Tom participated in a recent cohort. He looks forward to turning his past challenges into professional skills and opportunities for a career.
As a safe alternative to a large indoor gathering at a restaurant, the Sterling Community Center celebrated the holiday season a different way this year: with an outdoor “winter market” hosted on-site. Tokens were provided by the Center to each shopper, with which they could purchase a variety of items. Shoppers were also invited to have their gifts wrapped and to select from a variety of holiday cards. Through this creative market experience, barriers such as cost, transportation, and other challenges were eliminated.
Numerous participants informed staff that this would be the first time in years that they were able to give gifts to family members and friends, or that this would be the only gift they themselves received. One community member in particular was especially touched. As he selected gifts for various family members, it was easy to see how meaningful the experience was for him. “Now I’m going to have gifts for my family,” he remarked.
“As he left, we had one of those moments in this work, where without speaking a word, we could look at each other and know something really good and special had come out of the work we put into the event,” remembers a staffer.
* Your support makes an impact. Funding for the Sterling Community Center’s Winter Market was generously provided by a donor.
Helping youth build resilience through community-based services...
At MHA, we provide care when, where and how people need it most – and that includes for children. Our community-based, mobile youth services are a strong example of how our flexible, person-centered care can be tailored to best support each individual and their unique recovery goals. In addition to serving children as young as three in our Westchester and Rockland clinics, we work with children, adolescents and young adults ranging in age from newborns to 21 years old through our mobile services. Clinicians, care managers, youth peer specialists and more meet with youth and families in community settings, such as libraries, schools, or parks. We also address challenges related to transportation, scheduling and comfort level by providing in-home services.
Hover over the numbers below to learn more about how the right care at the right time makes an impact:
39 children received short-term intensive support through our Crisis Stabilization team
When Jackie*, now 18, began working with a Crisis Stabilization team, she was reintegrating back home following a residential placement. Despite challenges with managing her symptoms and substance misuse, Jackie demonstrated an increasing sense of motivation as the weeks passed. She worked consistently with her team to build healthy coping mechanisms and began to make time in her week to do healthy activities, such as exercising regularly. A gifted musician, Jackie began performing in her community as her self-confidence grew. By the time Jackie “stepped down” from the short-term Crisis Stabilization services, she had begun attending AA meetings on a regular basis and had applied to a local college, where she was accepted to pursue a degree in music. Months later, her mother shared that Jackie continues to do well and is achieving success in many areas of her life – including in college where she is receiving A's!
When 13-year-old Anthony* began working with ACHIEVE, a care-coordination service that helps families support their children at home and out of residential care, he was struggling with anxiety centered around school attendance and friendships. He expressed an interest in exploring coping skills with his Care Manager before discussing medication options. Together they built a toolbox of skills to help in various situations, and Anthony’s hard work paid off. His attendance at school has improved immensely, and he is enjoying spending time with classmates outside of school. He credits these big changes in his life to consistently meeting with his Care Manager and embracing his peers as another source of support.
137 children, adolescents and young adults received Care Coordination services through Health Homes Serving Children and ACHIEVE
41 youth engaged in Mobile Mental Health services in 2021.
13 year old Staci* had an extensive history of mental health challenges, inpatient hospitalizations, and residing at detention centers and residential treatment programs. Her Mobile Mental Health clinician created a safe space for Staci to engage in therapy, where they could discuss previous behaviors without criticizing them. During this time, Staci opened up and shared a caring, kind and positive side of her that many others had not seen before. Her clinician shared, “It was enjoyable to watch Staci identify positive aspects of herself and be able to make connections between her past experiences and current behaviors and show motivation to change.”
When Christy*, age 18, began experiencing episodes of psychosis, she was referred to OnTrackNY @ MHA, an innovative treatment program for young adults that provides intensive services as early as possible to reduce the severity of psychosis. She began to engage in all available services, including therapy, medication management, family counseling, peer support and group therapy. With the help of her OnTrackNY team, Christy realized social media was triggering negative feelings and behaviors, and she successfully discontinued her use. Within eight months, the once-struggling student turned around her grades, getting As in all of her classes. She even sought out and maintained a meaningful volunteer role during summer vacation. When she returned to school that fall, she met with her school psychologist to establish a mental health support group, which now has more than a dozen student members. Christy hopes to become a social worker or psychologist and, at the time of writing, has been accepted into several colleges.
OnTrackNY @ MHA served 73 individuals in 2021. 64 of these participants were between the ages of 10 and 30.
Our Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers served 140 youth in foster care.
Susan*, a mother who recently marked her first year of sobriety, was reunited this year with Johnny, her bright four-year-old son who had been placed in foster care. During his placement, Johnny was assigned a Court Appointed Special Advocate, a professionally trained volunteer who advocated for his educational, physical health and mental health needs during his journey toward reunification with his mother. Today, Susan is attending parenting sessions and classes for her GED and looks forward to starting an OSHA job-training program. She also attends weekly Narcotics Anonymous meetings and therapy with an MHA clinician. Johnny attends Pre-K and has begun his own weekly therapy sessions. The pair reside in a residential program, where staff are working closely with Susan in her efforts to locate housing for her son and herself. Johnny has settled in well with his mother, and Susan is overjoyed to have her son in her care again.
When a trained Visit Host began working with Joseph*, his two young children had been placed with their maternal grandmother. Joseph was no longer in a relationship with the children’s mother and was working to gain full custody of his children. His Visit Host volunteer supervised the weekly visits between Joseph and his children, ensuring the children’s safety and providing him with coaching and guidance on a variety of parenting situations. This feedback helped Joseph enhance his interactions with his children and build stronger bonds. He was very responsive, engaged and loving towards his children, and within three months, the family was able to "graduate” to unsupervised visits and are on track towards reunification.
19 families received support from Visit Hosts in 2021.
Youth ages 10 to 18 are served through the Cross Systems Unit, a collaboration between the Department of Probation, the Department of Social Services, and the Department of Community mental Health.
When Dara* was referred to the Cross Systems Unit, she was engaging in extensive drug use and other high-risk behaviors. Once connected with CSU’s Safe Harbor program, which provides screening, assessment and ongoing support to sexually exploited and/or work exploited minors, Dara was identified as a victim of human sex trafficking. Over the course of the next two years, Dara’s Safe Harbor Case Manager worked diligently to connect her to specialized services that met her needs. Utilizing a trauma-informed approach to engagement and motivational interviewing skills, Dara’s Case Manager was able to support Dara and her parents through challenging periods. Dara successfully graduated high school in 2021 and is now enrolled full time in college. Additionally, Dara is planning to become a peer mentor for the Safe Harbor Program, allowing her to support others in their journey towards restorative healing.
Helping adults improve their mental health, physical health, parenting skills, & more...
We promote recovery by providing services that reflect our deeply held values, including the recognition of individual rights of self-determination, choice, shared decision-making and collaborative work. Our highly trained staff utilize evidence-based practices throughout our comprehensive array of trauma-informed and recovery-oriented services.
In addition to our clinic services, we offer a robust menu of programs and supports provided in the community for adults.
Hover over the numbers below to learn more about our community-based treatment and support services for adults:
83 adults were supported by MHA’s Assertive Community Treatment program in 2021.
When Tim* began working with his Assertive Community Treatment team, he was coming out of a series of inpatient hospital admissions. ACT’s multidisciplinary team – which addresses substance abuse, employment, wellness, family support and psychiatric and nursing needs – serves individuals who are more likely to flourish and progress toward personal goals through intensive support in their own environment. With the help of his ACT team and more comfortable outside of a traditional clinic-based setting, Tim has been able to avoid hospitalization while sustaining employment as a security guard. With growing confidence and stability, he continues to look to the future, taking the steps to acquire a security license to enhance his job skills.
Adult Home and Community Based Services continue to experience exponential growth; in 2021, the program provided more than 5,790 services.
Nick*, 26 years old, has dreams of being a published writer someday. He is extremely creative and loves to express himself through poetry, short stories, music and art. He also lives with extreme anxiety and is easily overwhelmed by circumstances. He has made a couple of attempts to begin his college education over the past few years, but was never able to overcome the anxiety that came with applying for college, getting accepted and eventually enrolling. Compounding his anxieties was the fact that his family worried about him and perhaps did not realize the strength that he possessed. With the support of his Home and Community Based Services team, Nick recently navigated the admissions process and enrolled at a local college, where he is not only enjoying his studies but the socialization opportunities that college offers.
In 2021, the Partners in Parenting Team provided services to 89 caregivers.
Jenny* was referred to Partners in Parenting, a weekly community-based therapy program for caregivers, two years ago due to mental health challenges impeding her parenting and functioning skills. Unfortunately, her children were removed from the home soon after. Since then, she has remained consistent with weekly sessions and shared with her team that the progress she is experiencing in her life can be attributed to the work accomplished with her therapist in PIP. Jenny has increasingly demonstrated her readiness and ability to care for her children again and continues to work with PIP in the next phase of reunification with her children.
945 individuals received support through HHSA Care Management in 2021.
In recent years, many clients have struggled to find resources to ensure their health and safety during challenges presented by the pandemic. One in particular was Renee*, who tested positive for COVID and was forced out of her home in the middle of winter. She had no family support and nowhere to stay because of the risk of exposure. Renee’s Health Homes Serving Adults Care Manager was able to ensure her safety and assisted her with securing a hotel room in which she could quarantine and recover.
Jon* was admitted to Planned Respite to provide his family relief from care responsibilities. During his respite stay, he worked with a clinician to develop positive coping mechanisms to support his mental health. Jon was proactive in working on his recovery-oriented goals. During his discharge, he reported that he would continue to implement the intervention skills acquired and that he had a newfound determination to take care of his mental health for not only himself but for his family.
Planned Respite is a short-term intervention for adults who are experiencing an escalation of symptoms that cannot be managed in their home and/or a community environment without increased supports
Supporting additional pillars of wellness...
We provide additional care and support through our robust housing and employment services. At MHA, we believe that you don’t get better in order to work; you work in order to get better. The philosophy of MHA’s housing programs is rooted in the principles of psychiatric rehabilitation and the belief that individuals with behavioral health conditions can recover and make choices in regards to their living, working and social environments allowing individuals to live the most independent lives possible.
Hover over the numbers below to learn more about how we help make an impact through housing and employment services:
The Single Homeless Assessment Center served 420 individuals.
After searching for many months, Shawn* was hired for a part-time position at a local bakery. He contacted the Single Homeless Assessment Center (SHAC) team to let them know and thank them for talking to him about his mental health and histories of incarceration and trauma. As part of a contract with the Department of Social Services, MHA’s SHAC team completes comprehensive three-day assessments for adults living in shelters in Westchester County. Shawn credits speaking with the team about his hopes for the future as playing an important role in figuring out his interest in baking, cooking and business. He is enjoying both his job and the independence that comes with employment and hopes to transition to a full-time position soon.
247 adults resided in Supportive Housing in 2021.
“We are always happy to be a part of our tenants’ lives and witness their achievements. In 2021, we witnessed the evolution of a tenant who is now totally independent from any subsidies, including Supportive Housing. She has been working full-time for several years and is now earning a salary that allows her to support herself. She had a 5-year plan that she stuck to and never looked back.”
Employment Services grew by 20 percent in 2021, serving 176 individuals.
At 58 years old, Daryl* had changed careers many times during his life and had a significant trauma history that impacted his confidence and a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder. As an older worker with a disability, he also confronted a fear of lost or reduced benefits. Our Employment Specialist worked intensively with Daryl to address his concerns. With encouragement and practical support, he obtained a medical secretary position in a busy doctor’s office. Over the course of the first several months, Daryl expressed to his Employment Specialist that he wanted to quit multiple times. However, timely job coaching support not only helped him have the confidence to maintain his position but to complete medical billing coursework and master his first Electronic Health Record system. Daryl reflected that despite having seen a number of therapists, psychologists and doctors, “[employment services] just worked in a way that no one else had” to take their recovery to the next level.
In 2021, 21 individuals resided in our Apartment Treatment Program, which provides housing, support and services to adults
Don* was apprehensive about Apartment Treat Program services at first, but over time, he opened up to collaborating with ATP staff and displayed an ongoing effort towards actively achieving his goals and being his true self. Once he obtained housing through MHA resources, he collaborated with ATP staff on his discharge plan, including plans for long-term treatment and access to clinical support. To this day Don continues to keep in touch with ATP staff and expresses his gratitude for their support and the offerings of the service. He further expresses that the support he received has improved his overall self-care and independent living abilities and skills, as well as has allowed him to spend more time with his family.
Providing person-centered care through our clinics...
Our brick-and-mortar locations are federally designated Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics and offer an array of services to promote whole health. From clinical psychotherapy, medication management, and substance use disorder services to care management, peer support and employment services, a community of care is assembled under one roof. Coming soon, our new clinic in White Plains will be co-located with a Federally Qualified Health Center offering primary and dental care.
Hover over the numbers below to learn more about the impact of our care teams:
Our clinic services surpassed 50,000 sessions for the first time in MHA history.
Matt*, age 17, was struggling with depression and anxiety, as well as navigating his sexual identity, when he began working with MHA. He allowed his care team to work collaboratively with his family, psychotherapist and school personnel, including school administration, social workers, school psychotherapist, and guidance counselors. The collaboration of this multidisciplinary team and ancillary personnel helped Matt remain in his school setting while receiving mental health services. He is currently showing great improvement in his mood and thought processes, and most importantly he feels comfortable engaging in discussions related to his sexual identity. Matt is thriving in his educational pursuits and his family has been learning how to support him as he grows into a happy young adult.
Approximately 23% of the individuals served in our clinics were between the ages of 6 and 18.
“I feel proud, and I feel good.” When Hannah*, age 14, began working with her MHA clinician, she barely made eye contact, spoke very quietly and had trouble identifying one positive adjective to describe herself. In sessions, her clinician helped her focus on empowerment, positive change, how and why she is valued, and how her life now will not always be this way. After a couple of months, Hannah came to her session with a smile on her face for the first time. As she walked through the entrance door to the clinic, Hannah said in a bright voice, "I have something to tell you." After settling down in the room, she shared, "I auditioned for the school play." Her clinician recalls how her affect and behavior completely changed as she relived the experience of taking control of one aspect of her life. In that session, for the first time, a spark of positivity and excitement shone brightly in Hannah.
ConocoPhillips on behalf of Joseph P. Ingrassia
$25,000 - $99,999
Clarfeld | Citizens Private Wealth
$10,000 - $24,999
Joseph & Sophia Abeles Foundation, Inc.
The Thomas & Agnes Carvel Foundation
$5,000 - $9,999
2021 marked a special anniversary for MHA: 75 years ago, we opened our doors and established Westchester’s first outpatient mental health clinics, addressing the needs of returning WWII veterans and school children.
Thank you to all of our supporters for celebrating this meaningful milestone with us at our 75th anniversary virtual gala.
Meryl A. Allison & Elisa E. Burns, MD
Allen & Jeanette Fairhurst
Jennifer & Steve Kasoff
Michael & Kate Lombardi
The Ostman Family
Team Daniel Running for Recovery
$1,000 - $4,999
John & Nancy Alderman
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
Courtney & Jason Beach
Barbara Bernstein & Jonathan Arfa
Oren & Mary Jo Bramson
Connecticut Business Systems
Nora & Jonathan Contract
Epstein, Becker & Green, P.C.
Hon. Mary F. Foster
Patrice Ingrassia & Chris Broda
Janis and Alan Menken Charity Fund
Richard & Regina Jones
Ann Mandel Laitman & Robert Laitman
Mary Lou & Vijay Gerard D'Silva
Eric & Barbara Marks
Mielke Family Foundation
New York Presbyterian Hospital
John & Jean Nonna
Vicki Penino & Fred Campion
Stacey & Tom Roberts
Andrew & Melanie Schaffran
Joel & Joyce Seligman
The Sloman Foundation
Gerald Stern & Carla Pasquali
Sun River Health
David & Peggy Tanner
Harold & Nicki Tanner
The Toby & Nataly Ritter Family Foundation
The W. and R. Bernheimer Family Foundation
Elise Wagner & Robin Stout
Westchester Women's Bar Association Foundation, Inc.
$500 - $999
David & Fran Alexander
Alan & Elaine Ascher
Orlando & Barbara Barreiro
Bronx Westchester Medical Group
Annette Cerbone & Suzanne LeVan
Charles S. Raizen Foundation
Joshua Cohen & Valery Richman
Danziger and Markhoff LLP
Robert & Joan Easton
Sean & Peggy Fairhurst
J. Brugger Family Fund
Mark & Ann Kenyon
Matthew & Deidre Kimble
Carl & Frances Levinson
Sara Lynn & John Karidis
Sean & Randi Mayer
Hon. Sondra Miller
Mutual of America Foundation
Barbara Norat & Douglas Fairhurst
Brendan & Kathryn O'Rourke
Donal & Jean Orr
Penino & Moynihan, LLP
Irving & Sharon Picard
Search for Change
Moses & Betty Silverman
Michael Washburn & Nancy Carmichael
$100 - $499
All Time Detection Inc.
Amazon Smile Organization
Barbara Anne & Larry Warren
Behavioral Health News
Brenda & Charles Block
Karen & David Blumenthal
Glen & Jackie Bolster
Conrad & Pam Bringsjord
Charles & Meredith Brown
Shannon & Andrew Catauro
D. P. Wolff
Barclay Damon LLP
Elizabeth & Alan Ehrich
Alan & Linda Englander
Gerald & Phyllis Ente
Andrew & Sandra Eskin
Gail Ames & Sylvia Fabriani
Stephen & Suzanne Fields
Daniel & Deborah Fins
First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown
Tim & Lisa Fitzgerald
The Foley Group
MaryBeth & Dominick Forcello
Jennifer Friedman & Andy Regal
Barbara & Herman Geist
Marcia Geller, PhD
Shapiro Gettinger & Waldinger, LLP
Peter Goldsmith & Lynne Goldstein
Edwin & Carol Greenhaus
Joseph & Mary Lou Grotzinger
William Harrington & John Huttlin
Steven & Barbara Hazelton
Herbert & Elizabeth Heller
Paul & Susan Hodara
Phyllis & Dominick Isbell
JW Hands Foundation
Richard & Elizabeth Kadin
Harvey & Helene Kaminski
Daniel & Renee Kaplan
John & Ann Kaufman
Jeffrey & Adina Keller
Cindy Schneider Kief
Juliet & Joshua Konvisser
Sarah & Richard LeBuhn
Charles Selig & Madalyn Lehman
Stefann Van Lesberghe
Diane & Douglas Maass