Silas Kelly, M.S.W. '14, kicked off Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 on a Z100 radio broadcast.
Silas Kelly, M.S.W. ’14 is a social worker, board member of the Association for Mental Health and Wellness (MHAW), self-described “social work media specialist” and longtime friend of radio veteran Skeery Jones on Z100. Jones’ show, Get Active, is dedicated to encouraging volunteerism in the community. Kelly, along with some of his colleagues, was recently invited onto Z100 to spread the word about Mental Health Awareness Week.
“We go way back!” Kelly chuckled, speaking with Jones. “Brooklyn College ’97.” As a former promotional speaker and occasional guest on Z100, Kelly is no stranger to the power of radio. While at Brooklyn College, he hosted a school radio show called Viewpoints, where he met and worked with Jones. In 2012, Kelly was named the National Association of Social Workers-New York State (NASW-NYS) Suffolk Division’s Social Work Student of the Year, and went on to present his work on social work’s relationship to the media at the annual NASW-NYS conference. Now, Z100 has provided Kelly with a platform to broadcast a message of support and lend a helping hand to those suffering from mental illness.
MHAW specializes in recognition of, education about and treatment of mental illness throughout Long Island. Kelly stresses the importance of destigmatizing mental illness in an article he published on the website SocialJusticeSolutions.org. He explained that people with mental illnesses “seem to not want to admit that they are in psychological discomfort or emotional pain and anguish. They say nothing, they do nothing and they ask for no help. They simply suffer in silence.” Kelly’s role with MHAW is to reach out to these people and make sure they’re aware of the help and resources available to them.
Kelly appeared on Z100 with Michael Stoltz, M.S.W. ’82, CEO of MHAW; Marcelle Leis, adjunct professor at St. Joseph’s College; and Anne Marie Montijo, deputy director for strategic initiatives at MHAW and former director of field education in the School of Social Work at Adelphi. Each professional specializes in a separate field of mental health, but they have come together at MHAW.
Kelly’s work has focused largely on veterans, and in September 2015 he appeared on Z100 was to promote The Soldiers Project, which provides veterans with free mental health care and has multiple locations throughout the country. Suffolk County was “one of the first four counties to have veteran peer support funding from the state,” explained Leis, who is a veteran herself. Kelly and Leis emphasized that MHAW places great importance on helping the families of veterans as well. “When a service member goes, the family also serves,” Leis added.
Going forward, Kelly hopes to “collaborate on future projects involving Adelphi” to combine broadcast journalism and social work.
The Association for Mental Health and Wellness was formed in 2014 upon the merger of two Suffolk County mental health organizations. “We’ve found that the sooner we intervene with people, the better their course of recovery,” Stoltz told Jones, emphasizing the importance of spreading the word. Before Stoltz was CEO, he was executive director of Clubhouse of Suffolk, one of the organizations that became MHAW.
The Association for Mental Health and Wellness week of events, covered topics including anxiety control, sex education, meditation and eating disorders, took place at its various locations across Long Island. “We hope to demystify the false perceptions of mental illness and highlight the hope that we know exists for someone to ‘heal’ from their ‘illness’ and discover ‘mental health and wellness,’” Kelly explained. The Association for Mental Health and Wellness helps approximately 3,000 to 3,500 people every year, with centers in Ronkonkoma, Bohemia, Riverhead and Yaphank. To learn more about Mental Health Awareness Week, visit mhaweek.org.
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