Association for Mental Health and Wellness

By on Jul 3, 2024 in Giving

Many suffer the stigma and negative perceptions surrounding mental health. However, this association is breaking the barriers so individuals and families do not experience delays, leading to long-term consequences.

The Association for Mental Health and Wellness

The Association for Mental Health and Wellness (MHAW) is committed to empowering and inspiring people of all communities to identify, pursue and sustain healthy, meaningful lives. Founded in 1990 in Ronkonkoma, New York, the association promotes mental health as a critical part of overall wellness.

“We advocate for prevention services for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated services, care and treatment for those who need them, and recovery as the goal,” said Colleen Merlo, chief executive officer for The Association for Mental Health and Wellness.

The Association for Mental Health and Wellness is committed to closing the gap between need and access to care. Unfortunately, more than half of America is living with a mental illness that does not receive treatment. In addition, more than half of America’s youth living with major depression do not receive the proper care. MHAW is distressed by this data and continues to fight disparities faced by individuals living with mental health challenges in connection with timely and appropriate support.

To achieve health services to individuals in a reasonable manner, The Association for Mental Health and Wellness aims to expand access to its services by ensuring they have skilled staff ready to accept referrals, build its continuum of services and create pathways for individuals to know about the services available across the system of mental health care and offering quick response and assessments for new clients. MHAW will prioritize:

 ·       Program Growth 

·        Program Excellence 

·        Rebranding and consolidated messaging 

·        Bring Crisis Residence online 

·        Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging training and activities  

·        Establish and maintain leadership excellence 

·        Recruit and retain excellent staff 

·        Launch the Central Access department

Funding from Yardi helps improve access to care by supporting enhanced public awareness of the signs and symptoms and available services and resources. The first step to accessing care is knowing that help is needed. Funding also helps support enhancements to MHAW’s website to improve and expand screenings for psychological distress.

The struggle is real

Last year, Jasmine, one of MHAW’s educators, was visiting a local high school when she noticed a young woman stayed behind and seemed to want to talk but was challenging to engage with. When the bell rang, she rushed out of the room. The next day, MHAW received a phone call through its Information and Referral line, and the caller explained she had heard Jasmine’s presentation about the signs and symptoms of emotional distress and was afraid to talk. After taking a screening on its website, she realized she needed help.

“The screenings on MHAW’s website have the power to save lives, and with improved functionality, they can expand their ability to reach and connect people to care,” explained Merlo.

Since that day, the caller has connected with MHAW several more times, and they came to learn that she had lost a friend to suicide and was struggling with feelings of guilt and shame. Due to the screening she took on MHAW’s website, she realized she was experiencing depression and needed help to navigate her complex emotions.  This screening is a huge step in this woman’s long journey toward healing.

“Yardi’s donations help many more people take that first step,” said Merlo.

Volunteer Opportunities

The Association for Mental Health and Wellness

The Association for Mental Health and Wellness has several volunteer opportunities in their two food pantries, a soup kitchen and an organic healing garden. Volunteer work includes stocking food along with greeting and serving diverse community members. Regarding the healing garden, MHAW welcomes volunteers on Saturdays from 10 am -12 pm to help with planting, watering, weeding and harvesting food for the upcoming week.

In addition, MHAW’s Recovery and Wellness Center needs some remodeling. Volunteers can help paint and create enhancements for clients to have a happy, healthy and productive life. Please contact Colleen Merlo, CEO, at (631) 471-7242 ext. 1350 or [email protected].

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