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

Learning Skills for Better Mental Health

Community members came together at The History Center in Tompkins County on July 9 to be trained in ways to help others who may be experiencing a mental health problem or crisis.

Mental Health First Aid training

Melanie Little, director of Education at the Mental Health Association in Tompkins County, led the trainees through an eight-hour course in Mental Health First Aid, a program offered throughout the world that teaches everyday people the skills to support family members, friends, or others with mental health issues.

The 16 trainees were taught how to connect people to appropriate resources, that there is no-one-size-fits-all approach to mental health, and about the vital role that culture plays in how people understand and recover from mental health problems. 

According to Little, ongoing research provides evidence that the trainings improve people’s understanding of mental health and help combat the stigma that persists in society around these issues.

“County residents from a wide variety of backgrounds came together to learn and improve their confidence in providing support for the people in their lives,” Little said. “While learning about recognizing and responding to mental health concerns, trainees came together in lively conversation, bringing up real-life situations and learning from each others’ experiences.”

The training was supported by The History Center, which provided space for the training, and by a grant from The Sophie Fund at the Community Foundation of Tompkins County.

The Mental Health Association has trained 113 people in Mental Health First Aid so far in 2022, with more courses planned for the rest of the year.

For more information or to inquire about receiving training in Mental Health First Aid, contact Melanie Little, director of Education at the Mental Health Association: mlittle@mhaedu.org or (607) 273 9250.

Sign Up for Mental Health First Aid

Mental health challenges are more common than ever. Are you concerned about a friend or family member? Do you want to gain confidence in talking about mental health? Do you want to know more about what to do in a crisis?

Join the Mental Health Association in Tompkins County for a free Mental Health First Aid training on Saturday, July 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a comprehensive course from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing that teaches participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

The training teaches the skills to reach out and provide initial help and support to an adult who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis.  

To receive certification, participants must attend for the full-day course, and complete a 2-hour self-paced pre-course. (For those without computer/internet access for the self-paced course, the Mental Health Association can provide space and a computer.)

This training is provided in partnership with The History Center in Tompkins County with financial support from The Sophie Fund.

MHFA covers:

         •        Common signs and symptoms of mental health challenges

         •        Common signs and symptoms of substance use challenges

         •        How to interact with a person in crisis

         •        How to connect a person with help

         •        Information on trauma and its impacts

         •        Self-care

MHFA teaches a five-step action plan for first aiders:

         •        A: Assess for risk of suicide or harm

         •        L: Listen nonjudgmentally

         •        G: Give reassurance and information

         •        E: Encourage appropriate professional help

         •        E: Encourage self-help and other support strategies

WHEN: Saturday July 9, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with a break for lunch on your own)

WHERE: The History Center in Tompkins County, 110 N. Tioga Street (Ithaca Commons), Ithaca, NY 14850

COST: Free

TO REGISTER: Contact Melanie Little, Director of Education, at mlittle@mhaedu.org or (607) 273-9250.

—By Melanie Little

Melanie Little is the Director of Education and a Certified Peer Specialist at the Mental Health Association in Tompkins County

This Close to Happy

Daphne Merkin, author of This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression, will be the featured guest speaker at a “Readings on Mental Health” event on Sunday, November 19 sponsored by the Mental Health Association in Tompkins County and hosted by Buffalo Street Books.

Daphne-Merkin-Argos-Social

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, John Kaag called Merkin’s 2017 memoir “one of the most accurate, and therefore most harrowing, accounts of depression to be written in the last century… Ms. Merkin speaks candidly and beautifully about aspects of the human condition that usually remain pointedly silent.”

Andrew Solomon, reviewing This Close to Happy for the New York Times, wrote: “It is standard fare to say that books on depression are brave, but this one actually is. For all its highly personal focus, it is an important addition to the literature of mental illness.”

Merkin is also the author of Enchantment, Dreaming of Hitler and The Fame Lunches: On Wounded Icons, Money, Sex, the Brontës, and the Importance of Handbags. A former staff writer at the New Yorker, she has also written for the New York Times, Elle, Bookforum, Departures, Travel + Leisure, W, Vogue, Tablet Magazine, and other publications. She has taught writing at the 92nd Street Y, Marymount College, and Hunter College.

Merkin’s appearance is part of “Readings on Mental Health,” a series featuring authors of books on mental health topics made possible by a grant from The Sophie Fund.

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Cupcake Joy, 2017 Edition

Enjoy a photo gallery from the 2nd Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest, held in the Commons on October 14, 2017.

bannerBernie Milton Pavilion, October 14, 2017

 

registrationLet the Contest Begin: Angela registers Tamarynde Cacciotti’s entry, cream puff cupcakes with Earl Grey pastry filling that went on to win the Grand Prize.

 

alistrongwaterHappy Halloween: Ali Strongwater’s 2nd Prize-winning pumpkin and ginger cupcakes haunted by sugar ghosts.

 

alexanderRaspberries and Butterflies: Alexander Quilty’s 3rd prize-winning chocolate raspberry-filled cupcakes with raspberry buttercream frosting.

 

monicacottoEmerging Brightness: Monica Cotto’s vegan blood orange dark chocolate cupcakes topped with edible crystal geodes (Honorable Mention).

 

Beth Goelzer LyonsForest of Cupcakes: Beth Goelzer Lyons’s chocolate chip cookie dough-filled vegan chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate trees.

 

melaniehardyFall Foilage: Melanie Hardy’s Campfire S’more Cupcakes with marshmallow fluff frosting topped with a Hershey bar (Honorable Mention).

 

robynschmittWinter Wonderland: Robin Schmitt’s vanilla cupcake topped by an edible peanut butter and nutella pine cone (Honorable Mention).

 

Lianna White“Healthiest Cupcake” Award: Lianna White’s gluten-free carrot raisin walnut cupcake.

 

nataliemccaskellLand of Unicorns: Natalie McCaskill-Meyers’s unicorn cupcakes won an Honorable Mention Award and “Best Youth Cupcake” Award.

 

judgesThe Hard Part: The judging begins!

 

judging2Tastes and Scents: The judging continues!

 

debbielazinskyCupcake Joy: Debbie Lazinsky of GreenStar Natural Foods Market samples the cupcake submissions.

 

alternativesfcuColoring Contest: Volunteers from Alternatives Federal Credit Union run the Coloring Contest for Under-8’s.

 

jacobparkercarverJacob Parker Carver of the Mental Health Association in Tompkins County sets up an interactive mental health quiz for attendees.

 

amyleviereAmy LeViere of the Community Foundation of Tompkins County welcomes the contestants.

 

IMG_9981Lee-Ellen Marvin, executive director of the Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service, thanks The Sophie Fund for being a catalyst for change in suicide prevention in Tompkins County.

 

yukojinguMeet the VIP Judges: Yuko Jingu (friend and co-worker of Sophie)

 

deleilanormanMeet the VIP Judges: Daleila Norman of GreenStar Natural Foods Market

 

ameliasauterMeet the VIP Judges: Amelia Sauter of Felicia’s Atomic Brewhouse and Bakery

 

Mary Sever Schoonmaker“Richest Cupcake” Award: Mary Sever Schoonmaker receives a GreenStar gift certificate for her chocolate zucchini cupcakes with meringue frosting garnished with cashew toffee bark.

 

tamaryndecacciotti copyShe’s No. 1: Tamarynde Cacciotti with her Grand Prize award for her cream puff cupcakes with Earl Grey pastry filling and mocha buttercream frosting.

 

mickiequinnThe Maestro: Event Producer Mickie Quinn