Odell Concludes Successful Term as NYSAC President

CARMEL, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell concluded her term as president of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) in September.

“NYSAC is grateful to County Executive Odell for her leadership over the past year. She is a strong voice for counties and was always ready to share the county perspective with state and federal leaders,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario. “This was an important and challenging year for counties, and County Executive Odell provided strong and steady guidance to our membership.”

NYSAC provides representation, education and advocacy for New York’s counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public.

“Counties deliver vital services to our residents, and NYSAC gives us a strong voice before the State and Federal government,” said County Executive Odell.

During her term, Odell was a strong advocate for counties, meeting with state and federal leaders regarding county concerns such as the opioid crisis, 911 funding, infrastructure needs, and foster care. Odell also oversaw the launch of the NYSAC Climate Resiliency Committee and the NYSAC Women’s Leadership Council.

“My year as President has given me broader insight into the important roles counties have in our communities and the challenges facing our local governments. I am grateful to my colleagues for their support as I worked on their behalf in Washington and Albany.”

Current NYSAC President Charles H. Nesbitt Jr., Chief Administrative Officer of Orleans County, appreciates all the effort that County Executive Odell put forth during her term.

“I extend my sincere thanks to MaryEllen Odell for her service these past 12 months as NYSAC President,” Nesbitt said. “MaryEllen provided great leadership to NYSAC even as she faced several natural disasters and adversity back home in Putnam County, where devastating storms knocked out critical infrastructure and left some communities without power for weeks. She spearheaded emergency response efforts not once, but several times in her communities over the past year. All the while she kept our association focused the state level. County Executive Odell’s leadership is a great model for us all.”

Odell has been a member of the NYSAC Board of Director since 2013. She is currently pursuing her third term as Putnam County Executive. In this role Odell has made it a priority to bring social and fiscal responsibility to county governance.

She has also served as Chairperson for the Mid-Hudson South Transportation Coordinating Committee (MHSTCC) and currently co-chairs the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC). Her knowledge and expertise on transit-oriented development projects has helped to propel Envision Brewster, a revitalization initiative designed to attract millennials to live, work, and recreate in Putnam County.

Prior to being elected County Executive in 2011, Odell served as a legislator for five years. This included two terms as the Deputy Chairperson of the Putnam County Legislature, in which role she successfully fought to identify and reduce unnecessary government spending.

Photo Caption: Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell with her fellow colleagues from NYSAC. From left to right: Steven F. McLaughlin, County Executive – Rensselaer County; Stephen J. Acquario, Executive Director – NYSAC; Cheryl Dinolfo, County Executive – Monroe County; MaryEllen Odell, County Executive – Putnam County; Charles H. Nesbitt, Jr., Chief Administrative Officer – Orleans County; Daniel P. McCoy, County Executive – Albany County.

Reducing Mental Health Stigma is Priority for Putnam

Brewster, NY—  When Putnam County  residents were asked about the most important health priorities, mental health was a top concern—specifically reducing depression, anxiety and stress.  These local concerns are reflective of the current health trends. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.  To encourage those at risk to seek treatment, reducing stigma is the first step. Mental health advocates locally and nationally are increasing awareness of the stigma that surrounds mental illness. The designation of Mental Illness Awareness Week, the first week of October, aims to support advocacy initiatives that fight stigma surrounding mental illness, educate the public and provide support to Americans faced with the realities of living with a mental health condition.

MaryEllen Odell, Putnam County Executive, urges all residents of Putnam County to get involved. “Mental illness is more common than most people think. Someone you know may not seek healthcare because they are concerned about what people think,” County Executive Odell says. “The responsibility of reducing stigma falls on our entire community— we must come together and raise awareness about mental illness.”

One in five adults in the U.S. experiences a mental illness in any given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Yet nearly 50% of youth aged 8-15 and almost 60% of adults with a mental illness didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year. The shame, fear and silence that stem from the stigma surrounding mental illness often prevent people from seeking treatment. “When you realize that those facing mental illness may be too ashamed to ask for help, then we must take a step back to see the bigger picture. As with any other disease, education and prompt, quality treatment are key components in reducing death. And it all begins with communication,” says interim Commissioner of Health Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, from the Putnam County Department of Health.

Megan Castellano, executive director of The Mental Health Association in Putnam County says, “Mental health is a public health issue, an important conversation that we all need to have about connecting people in need to support.  When you empower people with facts, information and resources, they can make decisions about the treatment options that are best for them and then they can begin, or continue, their recovery journey.  Most importantly, to let them know that they are not alone and that recovery is possible.”

This year, NAMI’s awareness week campaign aims to encourage people to speak up about mental illness. “Mental illness does not discriminate. We must remember that just like asthma, diabetes or any other chronic disease, mental illness cannot be cured by simply wishing it away. By bringing to light the existing stigma against those facing mental illness, the #CureStigma campaign invites people to replace their judgments and insensitivities with compassion and awareness so that those who need help feel free to get it,” says Ed Murphy from NAMI’s Putnam County chapter.

One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14 and while diagnosing mental illness in children can be complicated, pediatricians encourage parents to address mental health concerns as soon as they arise. “Speaking up on behalf of people impacted by mental illness may not be easy, but by sharing stories we have the power to spread hope and inspire others to cure stigma,” adds Ed Murphy. By using the hashtag #CureStigma and promoting an online assessment tool, NAMI is encouraging more empathetic dialogue about mental health conditions.

For resources on mental health services in Putnam County visit The Mental Health Association at http://www.mhaputnam.org/index.html or NAMI at https://namiputnam.org/. To learn more about #CureStigma visit https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Illness-Awareness-Week. If you are someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or is in need of immediate mental health support, contact the Putnam County Mental Illness Crisis hotline at 845-225-1222.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.