Where to Get Support

The Sophie Fund has released the 2023 guide to Mental Health Support and Crisis Services in Tompkins County.

The two-pager provides quick phone numbers and web links for suicide prevention, community and campus mental health clinics, local addiction recovery services, and sexual assault and domestic violence awareness and victim support. It also includes information about family and youth mental health support groups and how to locate a local primary care physician.

Copies of the guide can be posted on community bulletin boards and in clinical waiting rooms, distributed at schools, places of worship, and public events, or given to family members and friends. The guide can be easily downloaded and saved to laptops and mobile phones (note the QR code at the bottom of the guide) and shared via emails and social media.

Inspiration for the guide came from Cayuga Health Partners, which saw the value of providing the resource to primary care patients who screened for behavioral health complaints.

The Sophie Fund developed the guide in consultation with community health organizations, including the Tompkins County Health Department, Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service, Cayuga Health, and Guthrie Cortland.

“There continues to be a stigma around mental health and seeking help for problems like depression, substance abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence,”  said Scott MacLeod, co-founder of The Sophie Fund.

“We hope that the guide will help people see how normal and easy it is to reach out for professional help. We also hope that the guide cuts through any confusion folks may have about the array of services available to them in the greater Ithaca community.”

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Youth Stories of Resilience and Survival

A dynamic new installation at the Community Arts Partnership’s ArtSpace in January features the mental health stories of ten local youth.

Samir, by Rayan

“Naming the Unnamable,” curated by local author Bree Barton, will explore the personal journeys of ten young local artists through short film, audio recordings, written text, and visual art. The exhibit opens at the CAP ArtSpace on Gallery Night Friday January 6, where the artists will be present to talk about their work from 5 p.m to 8 p.m. The installation will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday throughout January.

Barton conceived the project after touring the country with her most recent book, Zia Erases the World, a middle grade novel inspired by her childhood depression. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, she met myriad students who talked openly about how they’d struggled—and how they’d survived. Barton envisioned creating a space where young artists could shape their own narratives through different mediums.

“I’ve always been interested in storytelling as a path to healing,” said Barton. “For me, that meant writing. For others, it might be drawing or filmmaking or collage. I gave these young artists a simple prompt: if you could tell us the story of your mental health journey over the last few years, what would you create?”

The result is an unflinching body of work from a diverse group of youth. Folx who self-identify as queer, BIPOC, and neurodiverse take center stage, as well as those with experience of homelessness. Several of the participating artists are members of the Youth Action Board (YAB), a group of youth with experience of homelessness in Ithaca and Tompkins County.

BERETTA., a member of YAB, makes art to capture “moments in life that often go overlooked, unseen, and under-represented due to the stigmatizing nature of themes such as trauma, substance dependency, mental illness, homelessness, and poverty.” The exhibit will showcase her digital collages and the eulogy she wrote for her best friend, a project she dedicates to his memory “and all the other folks we’ve lost in the street community before they could find comfort and home and peace.”

Downward Spiral, by BERETTA.

Hannah, a junior at Ithaca College, will share “an exploration of the psychological impacts of trauma through sound.” Hannah’s sound art heavily reflects their personal traumas, as well as that of their peers. Their goal is to “create a self-reflexive environment where the listener can learn from others’ traumas and sit in the uncomfortable. It’s about keeping an open mind to what others may be going through.”

At Gallery Night on January 6, Rayan will premiere her short film, Samir, the Somali word for “patience.” In Samir, Rayan recreates her experiences living in the Awbare refugee camp in Ethiopia for almost seven years. “This is a really personal project to me,” she said. “It has a lot of memory and meaning behind it.” In the film, which will play on loop in the gallery during open hours, Rayan reads from one of her “most precious journals” to capture the loneliness and isolation of that difficult time.

For high school sophomore Elise, this project has been a “rollercoaster of emotions.” The exhibit will feature her self-portrait and other art pieces, as well as an essay she wrote after losing her dad to suicide. “Although it’s very difficult to talk about my story and my dad,” Elise said, “I find it very refreshing to express my own feelings through art and writing. I hope my work can inspire someone to do the same.”

Untitled, by Elise

“This exhibit will offer no shortage of inspiration,” Barton said. “The art these youth have created is powerful, personal, and profound. I encourage people to move through the installation at their own pace, with an open heart and mind, and full permission to step away as needed.”

Barton hopes the artists’ willingness to engage with difficult themes will catalyze important conversations around mental health. Her goal is for more people, of all ages, to find healthy ways to share whatever it is they’re going through—and to ask for resources and support.

“It’s all about naming the unnamable,” said Barton. “Whether you do it through words or other forms of self expression. These young folx are wildly creative and courageous, and I cannot wait to share their work with the community. They are shining a light in a dark room. In the face of unimaginable loss and trauma, they show us that we, too, can survive.”

This project is made possible, in full, with funding from the SOS grant and Creative Recovery Fund from the Community Arts Partnership and the Community Foundation of Tompkins County.

Community Arts Partnership ArtSpace, 110 N. Tioga Street, Ithaca, NY 14850

Cupcake Joy, 2022 Edition

Enjoy a photo gallery from the 7th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest, held in the Commons on October 15, 2022

Aušra Milano and friend receive an Honorable Mention award for their Chai Latte Cupcakes

Julia and Taylor from Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity work the registration table

Laurie and Skip Knoll hang The Sophie Fund banner in the Bernie Milton Pavilion

Megan Martinez enters her Grand Prize Award-winning Tiramisu Bouquet Cupcakes

Megan Martinez’s 1st Place cupcakes

Emcee Carley Robinson of the Civic Ensemble

Akiko Cliteur’s Baked Cheesecake and Swan Cream Puff Cupcakes

Akiko Cliteur receives 2nd Place Award

Maddie Ulrich briefing the registration team

Ayumi Pereira’s Matcha Green Tea Cream-Filled Cupcakes

Ayumi Pereira receives 3rd Place Award

Katy Holloway’s S’more Cupcakes Please! Cupcakes

Katy Holloway receives the Youth Award

Suzuki violinists from Ithaca Talent Education

Kristina LaPage’s Sweet Bee’s Honey-Maple Cupcakes

Mary Sever-Schoonmaker’s Root Beer Float Cupcakes

Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service’s You Matter Cupcakes

Remarks by Crystal Howser of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Greater Central New York

Remarks by Kathy Taylor of NAMI Finger Lakes

Question of the Day!

Anna Brown receives the Most Fulfilling Award for her Payasam Cupcakes

Cy Centano-Pearlman receives the Peachy Keen Award

Suzanne Beltz’s Gingerbread and Mango Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Takoda Warner’s Layer Cake Cupcakes

Scott MacLeod, co-founder of The Sophie Fund, and Darrell Harrington, of Be Kind Ithaca

Cornell University volunteers

Final-round judges

Sponsors from Visions Federal Credit Union

Laurie Knoll and Virginia Cook

Event producer Cara Nichols from CRN Events

That’s a Wrap, Ithaca Commons!

Thank You, Mental Health Heroes!

Leaders of the mental health community spread messages of support and hope during the 7th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest.

Darrell Harrington, of Be Kind Ithaca, shared a personal story of getting help for crippling anxiety, and how it led him to create the bright red “Be Kind” hearts that adorn lawns and porches throughout Ithaca and beyond.

“I wouldn’t be here right now, or got to be on this amazing journey with Be Kind, if I hadn’t gained control of my anxiety,” said Harrington, crediting his wife and a close friend and band mate for guiding him into therapy.

 “If you are suffering, please talk to someone. I know it’s hard. It’s extremely hard. But there is help out there. There’s some amazing people that want to help you. It’s those nine out of ten people that will help you, and take care of you, and make you feel better, and enjoy your life like I am today.”

Kathy Taylor, of the Finger Lakes affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), related how a child’s mental illness turned her family’s world “upside down and inside out.”

National Alliance on Mental Illness Finger Lakes

“We thought we could fix his problem through love and support,” she said. “But it wasn’t enough. I had heard about NAMI. It really took a lot of courage to make that phone call and admit we couldn’t fix the problem ourselves.”

Taylor and her husband joined a 12-week NAMI class called Family to Family. “These people were non-judgmental and they helped us so much,” she recalled. “We learned a common language so we could talk to each other about mental illness in a more educated way and understand what our son was going through.

Crystal Howser, of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Greater Central New York, said everyone has a role to play in protecting mental health.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

“Together, we can make a difference,” said Howser, one of the Ithaca area’s most relentless suicide prevention advocates. “We can let others know they are not alone. Together, we are strong, together we are making a difference. Suicide is preventable and suicide prevention begins with all of us.”

Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service

Mental Health Association in Tompkins County

Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca

Advocacy Center of Tompkins County

Be Kind Ithaca

The Sophie Fund