MHA of Rockland Hosts Virtual Fundraiser Featuring Top Rockland County Chefs “Food for Thought” Programming Streaming Live November 15th


Valley Cottage, NY –10/29/20–Mental Health Association of Rockland (MHA of Rockland) will stream a 90-minute virtual cook-a-thon fundraiser on Sunday, November 15that 6:00 pm on their website and through Facebook Live to raise funds and awareness of the dire effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on mental health. Seven top chefs from local Rockland County restaurants will be creating mouth-watering dishes from various cultures to nourish viewers’ minds and stomachs during the program.

Chef Marcello Russodivito of Marcello’s Ristorante in Suffern graciously offered his kitchen for the cooking segments which feature Chef Marcello and Chef Philippe Scouarnec from Marcello’s; Chef Matt Hudson from Hudson House in Nyack; Chef Michelle Timothée from La Talaye Event & Catering in Haverstraw; Chef Kevin Reilly from Roost in Sparkill; Chef Jose David Martinez from Union in Haverstraw, and Chef Doug Chi Nguyen from Wasabi in Nyack. Along with the chefs’ time, these local restaurants have also generously donated a variety of gift certificates and products to encourage donations leading up to and throughout the event. As an added bonus, a “Food for Thought” commemorative wooden cooking spoon will be given to the first 125 people who make a donation of $25 or more through the MHA of Rockland website starting November 1st.

Working together to ensure that community programs remain funded and accessible has become more important than ever. Stephanie Madison, President & CEO of MHA of Rockland, notes that, “The pandemic spotlight s both existing and new barriers to accessing mental health services. Everyone has been affected in some way over the past 8 months by this global crisis. We are seeing increased rates of depression, anxiety, substance use and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), and do not yet know the magnitude of the psychological effects of this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. As the pandemic subsides, the psychological effects will emerge and can expect to continue for months and years to come.

“MHA of Rockland has been serving the Rockland community for almost 70 years, and we want to respond to the emerging needs of the community by expanding our mental health and family support services for adults, children and families.Funds raised will support expanding mental health programs for the Rockland community,trauma recovery work for individuals and their families, online support forums for healthcare workers, and online relaxation and support classes for individuals with behavioral health issues.”

Companies or individuals wishing to sponsor MHA of Rockland’s Food for Thought fundraiser should contact Ms. Velvet Reda at (845) 216-4045or Corporate sponsorships include the opportunity to offer a virtual interactive presentation on Mental Wellness in the Workplace during COVID-19 with Stephanie Madison, MHA of Rockland President and CEO, or another MHA of Rockland professional, depending upon the level. Individual donors can contribute through the MHA website at

About the Mental Health Association of Rockland The Mental Health Association of Rockland helps people living with mental illness and/or addiction to embrace life and redefine themselves. MHA of Rockland also welcomes and supports families, friends, employers and colleagues who care about those struggling with these challenges. Since opening their doors in 1951, MHA of Rockland has touched the lives of more than 50,000 Rockland County residents. MHA of Rockland is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.


Contact: Velvet Reda, MHA of Rockland

Phone:(845) 216-4045


CONTACT:  Ms. Velvet Reda

845-267-2172 x257




Valley Cottage, NY – As National Suicide Prevention Month ends, Mental Health Association of Rockland (MHA of Rockland) continues to be a year-round resource for those who struggle with suicidal thoughts. In addition, the agency offers a program for people who have lost a loved one to suicide. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on average, one person dies by suicide every five hours in New York.

“Suicide rates may increase as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as people struggle with isolation, financial stress and loss,” said Stephanie Madison, President & CEO. “Individuals with pre-existing mental health challenges including anxiety, depression and substance use disorders are especially vulnerable if left untreated. We offer hope because proper treatment can lead to healthy lives and prevent suicide.”

One major risk factor for suicide is impairment due to substance use, which can cause someone to act impulsively and make life-altering decisions that they might not make while sober.  Stress and isolation stemming from COVID-19 make everyone more vulnerable to misusing substances or jeopardizing earlier recovery success.  MHA of Rockland’s clinic offers counseling, medication assisted treatment, and peer support to those whose lives have been touched by substance use, either their own use or a loved one’s. For information about any of these programs, call 845-267-2172, x296.

Facts About Suicide in the United States

  • On average, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-34, and the fourth leading cause of death in individuals between the ages of 35-55.
  • In 2018, men died by suicide 3.56 times more often than women.

For More Information on the Mental Health Association of Rockland


If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide:

About Mental Health Association of Rockland

The Mental Health Association of Rockland is the premier provider of behavioral health services in the community, engaging more than 5,000 individuals annually.  MHA of Rockland consistently strives to improve the quality of life for those affected by mental health and/or substance use issues. They offer a vast array of therapeutic, peer and residential services.  For more information, please visit

Mindfulness in the Age of Anxiety

By Lynda Guzman, Director of ACT


Mindfulness and Anxiety are two ever-present buzz words in today’s media (both social and formal) which mirrors professional discussions concerning the harmful effects of anxiety and stress on the body and mind. Webster’s Dictionary defines anxiety as “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it” Clearly this describes many of the issues that have caused angst for people today.  The best remedy available (without prescriptions) is the practice of mindfulness.


Mindfulness has been defined as “an act of consciously focusing the mind in the present moment without judgement and without attachment to the moment.” (Linehan 2015) It seems so simple but is excruciatingly difficult in this age of heightened stress.  Many people are struggling with how to control their anxiety and how to live their best possible life.  The answer can be found in creating a meaningful mindfulness practice that honors the best of today while honing the skills that one might need for tomorrow.

Meditation is a form of mindfulness where the practitioner focuses on one thing (Beit their breath, a focal point outside of themselves, or some type of counting exercise) for a specific time period which allows the person to connect with that moment.  This type of activity is considered a grounding exercise and can be used in times of high stress as well as part of a daily ritual.  Meditation can also be used to focus one’s energy in the sense of an internal monologue about an aspect of one’s life such as “I will think through all the options before making a decision about my next vacation.”


Mindfulness can also be the totality of one’s senses in any given moment.  An example of this can be found in weight loss programs where the program will encourage the participant to use all their senses while eating. “I see a lush red strawberry with small seeds dotting the outside.  The strawberry feels bumpy as I hold it in my hand.  There is a slightly sweet earthy aroma. I hear the gentle smack of my lips as I bite into the strawberry.  I taste the sweetness which fills my mouth.”  This is the total berry experience.  Obviously, this can be done at any moment and in any set of circumstances.  Occasionally, when someone has difficulty with panic or high levels of anxiety, a mental health professional will suggest a naming exercise where the person will name all of the blue things in their environment or all the things that begin with the letter T.