The funding comes from taxpayer contributions received through a voluntary tax check-off program launched in 2016. This program allows taxpayers to donate easily to the ‘Mental Illness Anti-Stigma Fund’ when filing their state taxes, similar to other provisions where taxpayers can support Alzheimer’s research, breast cancer awareness and various other efforts.
“The Office of Mental Health works tirelessly to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, but this tax check-off program goes a step beyond that,” said OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. “It allows taxpayers to contribute to a cause that matters to them, and to see exactly how those contributions are being used in their communities. The ‘Mental Illness Anti-Stigma Fund’ allows every New Yorker to play a role in reducing stigma, and we are eager to see the impact these awarded projects will have across the state.”
The stigma associated with mental illness remains pervasive and too often discourages or prevents individuals from seeking needed treatment and care. OMH has a long record of promoting initiatives and public awareness programs that are dedicated to eliminating this stigma. This tax check-off program helps OMH fund organizations that are committed to providing information about mental illness and addressing the stigma associated with mental illness.
The OMH has distributed 15 grants of up to $5,000 each to support year-long stigma-reduction projects.
Awardees on Long Island include the Association for Mental Health and Wellness for a web-based campaign to increase awareness and participation in activities already in place; the Federation of Organizations for activities aimed at local businesses to address stigma related to hiring people with mental illness; and the Long Island Crisis Center for reaching out to middle/high students via workshops and social media.