Mental health leaders in Tompkins County highlighted available community services and underlined the importance of supporting the well-being of mental health workers during the 8th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest.
The organizations participating included: Be Kind Ithaca; Free Hugs Ithaca; Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service; Mental Health Association in Tompkins County; National Alliance on Mental Illness Finger Lakes; Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca; Health and Unity for Greg; and Advocacy Center of Tompkins County, and Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force.
Kayla and Michelle Eells of Health and Unity for Greg
Alecia Sundsmo, director of Clinical Services at Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca, said that her agency provides mental health care across the age spectrum regardless of ability to pay.
“One of the amazing things about Family and Children’s is that we can really provide mental health care from our zero-to-five program all the way up to our geriatric mental health program,” she said. “Somebody is never turned away. We know that equity across access to healthcare is so critical to making sure that people have the care that they need in the community where they live and work.”
Sundsmo also noted the agency’s outreach programs “to make sure that we reach folks who might have some additional stigma or barriers to seeking access to care. We go out and help them and find them and make sure that we can provide social supports in the community.” She said that the outreach includes community education programs and extends to supporting mental health in local businesses through their Employee Assistance Programs.
Michelle Eells of Health & United for Greg thanked Family & Children’s for establishing the Greg Eells Memorial Fund in honor of her husband, who died by suicide in 2019. Greg Eells was a veteran psychologist and active member of the Family & Children’s board.
“The fund helps provide wellness support and education to the Family and Children’s Service clinicians and staff,” Eells explained. “As mental health providers and caregivers who care vehemently for others and take it all in, they also need to be supported and make a priority to care for themselves.”
The Greg Eells Memorial Fund is the recipient of the 2023 Cupcake Button fundraising campaign organized by The Sophie Fund, which collects donations every year to support a local mental health nonprofit.
Lovisa Johanson of Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca
Samantha Shoemaker of Free Hugs Ithaca and Darrell Harrington of Be Kind Ithaca
Olivia Duell of the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County
Brandi Remington of the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force
Skip Knoll and Virginia Cook of The Sophie Fund
Stacy Ayres and Crystal Howser of AFSP Greater Central New York
Kathy Taylor and Sandra Sorensen of NAMI Finger Lakes