With significant growth in recent years, the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County (MHA) has also experienced transitions in leadership. Pictured (from left) at a celebration of some of these changes are new Board President Ian Eastman, former executive director Kia Briggs, Advisory Board Chair Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney, and new Executive Director Steven Cobb.

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Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County

Formed in 1999, the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County (MHA) became a peer-run organization in 2005.

With the acceptance of the need for more recovery services, in 2015 the MHA became a United Way of Southern Chautauqua County Community Partner, and now has 15 full- and three part-time employees.

MHA Advisory Board Chair Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney recently emceed an event that recognized a significant transition at the organization: the departure of Executive Director Kia Briggs and the promotion of Associate Director Steven Cobb to Executive Director.

More than a decade ago Briggs was only the second full-time person to

join the staff. Cobb was the third and has been part of the MHA for

seven years.

The tributes to Briggs’s accomplishments and the confidence in Cobb’s leadership were numerous.

Speakers included newly-elected Board President Ian Eastman, outgoing President Carm Micciche, Board Secretary Marie Anderson, Chautauqua County Commissioner of Social Services/Public Health Director and Advisory Board Member Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County Deputy Commissioner of Social Services/Adult, Child & Family Services and Advisory Board Member Leanna Luka-Conley, Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene Project Coordinator Misty Pennington, AAUW representative and MHA volunteer Janet Forbes, Katrina Fuller representing Congressman Tom Reed, Advisory Board Member Dr. Betsy Kidder, MHA CFO Jenny Rowe, and New York State Senator Andy Goodell.

Briggs is departing to take a position closer to home, where she can spend more time with her young son. She shared her appreciation for having been able “to work with an amazing group of people” and said to everyone present, “Without all of you, I would not be where I am.”

Cobb said that from Briggs he learned that stigma is the biggest

obstacle to recovery and that the opposite of stigma is love. He noted

that while sometimes we are afraid to use the word, “The reason

we’re here is because of love.”

Dr. Ney acknowledged the presence of other important MHA supporters including United Way of Southern Chautauqua County Executive Director Amy Rohler, Sheldon Foundation Executive Director Linda Swanson, and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Julie Apperson.

The Mental Health Association is a peer recovery support center offering recovery coaching, peer support services, peer support groups, advocacy, veterans support, employment and job support, trainings, and family support. The MHA provides linkages to mental health and substance use treatment, primary care doctors, health and human services, and is available to assist adult individuals in identifying community resources for healthier living.

Anyone with questions or in need of services for themselves or a family member is welcome to call or stop in at Door 14 in the rear of the Gateway Center, 31 Water Street, Jamestown. Hours are Monday 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To learn more about the MHA, call (716) 661-9044 or visit www.mhachautauqua.org or www.facebook.com/MHAChautauqua.