Governor Cuomo, on Saturday, November 21, 2015, took a landmark step in fighting the stigma of mental health illness by signing the Mental Health tax Check Off bill.
This new law will create a tax check off box in New York State tax forms dedicated specifically to ending the stigma of mental illness.
According to Glenn Liebman, the CEO of the Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. (MHANYS), “This law will begin to stem the tide of the discrimination and stigma of mental illness. One in four people in New York and the nation suffer with mental illness and the worst part of the illness is the mythology that people with mental illness are violent and crazy. Two out of every three people who need mental health services never seek these services for fear of being labeled as crazy or psychotic. This has to change and now we are better equipped with resources to facilitate that change. We applaud Governor Cuomo and the bill sponsors, Assemblymember Aileen Gunther, Senator David Carlucci, as well as Senate Mental Hygiene Chair, Robert Ortt for their leadership in this fight.
The effort to pass this bill was a true community movement from across New York State. Thousands of people, not otherwise engaged in politics, made phone calls, signed petitions, and sent memos of support in response to this legislation. Liebman said, “This was an actual grass roots effort where thousands of people spoke up because they, their family members, or close friends are impacted directly by mental illness. Mental Health Association members and our colleagues in the community created a tidal wave of support and it just shows how strong we can be when we speak with the same message.”
The law will take effect on January 1 and will be reflected in the 2016 tax forms. Mhanys will continue to publicize this new law as well as continue efforts to provide greater prevention and early intervention through mental health education in schools, expansion of Mental Health First Aid, and greater efforts around veterans’ mental health and suicide prevention.
The Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. (MHANYS) is a not for profit organization comprised of 30 affiliates in 52 counties throughout New York State. The mission of MHANYS is to promote mental health and recovery, eliminate discrimination, and raise public awareness with education and support.