Recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month 


By Katerina Belales

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) – With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, groups throughout the nation continue to encourage others to acknowledge their mental health and end the stigma surrounding it. 

“It’s more important now because we have so much technology,” said David Putney, Executive Director of Elmira Psychiatric Center. “We have so much knowledge and awareness of what really helps, and there’s so much hope for people. So we really want to get that information out so people have access to it and can move forward with their lives towards a quality of life that all of us want.” 

According to Putney, there are multiple steps to help an individual successfully cope with any mental struggle(s) or disorder(s) they may have. The first step: recognize it. 

“There’s no shame in it,” he said “We certainly don’t hesitate to go to the doctor if we have a stomachache [or] a heartache that won’t go away, and so there’s lots of hope and treatment.” 

The second step, Putney said, is to have a strong support system. 

“There are so many points of access all the way from your primary care doctor to helplines,” he said. “People might [also] find really natural support in their communities and neighbors that they may not have realized, and can really help them get their lives together in a different way.” 

Putney also emphasized the importance of taking care of your personal needs in regard to improving your mental health. 

“[We need] to really take care of our personal needs, like getting good rest and really having productive activity during the day,” he said. “Taking care of any medical circumstances that need addressing [is essential].” 

Finally, one must recognize there is overall hope. However, in order to do so, they must break from the bonds of stigma, which has so many levels: socially, culturally, spiritually and religiously. 

“We’re all spiritual beings,” said Putney. “We have a reason for existence. We’re trying to help people move from meaninglessness to purposefulness in their lives. That can’t happen overnight. It takes time.” 

While many mental health disorders are caused by trauma or grief that directly affects a person within their lifetime, Putney noted that many national and international tragedies can impact a person’s mind just as much. Despite not directly impacting the Twin Tiers and Finger Lakes Regions, the two mass shootings at a Tops in Buffalo and an elementary school in Texas have left much of the community searching for ways to cope with trauma and grief.  

“The first thing to do is recognize that it’s really an unspeakable kind of thing; a horrific kind of thing,” Putney said. “New York has done a lot in terms of responding to the disasters — especially the one in Buffalo — from our State Office of Mental Health to mobilizing volunteers in the community.”  

The Elmira Psychiatric Center specifically offers “a wide array of comprehensive psychiatric services” to help individuals improve their mental health, a factor that makes Putney incredibly proud. 

“We cover a region that’s pretty wide — about 10 counties — all the way from Inpatient care for kids and adults, as well as Outpatient services,” he said. “[However], the first thing [we focus on] is really welcoming people [and] helping them understand [that] it’s really a brave thing to come forward.” 

The Elmira Psychiatric Center is located at 100 Washington Street in Elmira. More information about the center and its services can be found on their website here. 

If you or someone you know feels lost or is in a crisis, contact any of the numbers listed below. 

  • Elmria Psychiatric Center: 607-737–4711 
  • New York HOPE Helpline: 844-863-9314 
  • National Crisis and Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255 
  • New York State Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-942-6906 
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “Got5” to 741-741 


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