Statistics tell us one in five Americans will suffer from mental illness, and the pandemic has pushed our mental health to the limit leaving many families searching for help and services.

Mental Health Advocates of Western New York (MHAWNY) has been a resource for families to turn to when someone is struggling with mental illness.

“It’s wonderful to get help — to get professional help, but sometimes people don't know where to get that help or who they can reach to and so that's what we are here for,” stated Melinda Dubois, executive director, MHAWNY.

WKBW-TV tells us that Dubois is new to the job, starting in her position last September in the midst of the pandemic.

Several organizations, including Jericho Road, are located a new building at 1021 Broadway in Buffalo all providing needed services to a disadvantaged community.

“It’s key to be centrally located in heart of an area that needs help. It’s really essential that we are here,” Dubois explained. “Really connecting with a community — so that they know we are here and getting to know the community.”

MHAWNY provides a variety of services including:

  • Child and Family Support Services
  • Legal services
  • Youth Peer Advocates in schools.

“We provide a lot of support for people that are struggling with anxiety or depression — we get a significant amount of calls for people looking for resources,” Dubois replied.

The pandemic is taking a toll on mental health for many adults and children.

"The fact that not only have we lost loved ones, but we’ve also lost our traditions — the things that we normally we count on — and for some of us — we’ve actually lost the foundation — whether it’s our schools — our work places our social lives,” Dubois noted.

Dubois says the pandemic has brought about an opportunity to help end the stigma that often surrounds mental illness.

“We're all struggling — we're all talking about it — so the more we talk about it — the more people are comfortable about talking about it,” responded Dubois.

If you or some you know is in a mental health crisis and need immediate assistance, call one of these numbers:

  • IN BUFFALO & ERIE COUNTY, CRISIS SERVICES, 24 HOUR CRISIS HOTLINE: 716-834-3131

  • 24 HOUR NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE (ENGLISH AND SPANISH) 1-800-273-8255

  • 24 HOUR ADDICTION HOTLINE BUFFALO AND ERIE COUNTY 716-831-7007

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