Celebrating Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

MARCH 1, 2024

ALBANY, NY: As we celebrate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (DDAM), the Mental Health Empowerment Project (MHEP) reaffirms its commitment to advancing the rights, well-being and inclusion of people involved with multiple systems – particularly the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). 

Coordinating peer support across systems is a key element of MHEP’s approach, facilitating continuity of support, informed decision making and empowerment. By harnessing shared experiences, peer services cultivate resilience, promote self-advocacy and encourage active participation within the community. This collaborative, cross-systems model underscores how integrated peer support can amplify the effectiveness of care and support across systems while ultimately promoting recovery and independent living. 

Additionally, MHEP commends Governor Hochul’s proposal to invest in creating an Olmstead Plan for New York, aiming to enhance the understanding of rights and choices for people living in institutions. This plan is a step toward ensuring that all individuals have the opportunity to live in the most integrated settings possible. Furthermore, the commitment to making New York an “Employment First” State, with a significant investment to support job programs for people with disabilities, aligns with MHEP’s vision of inclusive employment opportunities that recognize the capabilities and contributions of everyone.

As we observe Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, the Mental Health Empowerment Project pledges to continue working tirelessly to ensure the availability of self-help and peer support across systems and to continue to advocate for the rights, full integration and empowerment of all individuals.