NEW YORK CITY (TIP): Indian American Dr. Pankaj Patel, a Board Certified Psychiatrist and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Sciences at Richmond University Medical Center is one of the 15 appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to New York City Community Services Board.
Mayor de Blasio announced, November 28, the appointment of 12 new members and the reappointment of 3 members to the Community Services Board, the panel responsible for advising the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in areas related to the City’s community mental health and substance use treatment services. In addition, the Board will advise on the advancement of a stronger public health approach to mental illness and substance use as outlined in the City’s comprehensive plan: ThriveNYC. Appointees include leaders from the non-profit, public and private sectors with a track record of serving people with mental illness and substance use issues. The Board also will be advised by Sherry Glied, Dean of the New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of public services.
“Today we’re taking another step forward in our efforts to destigmatizing mental illness and ensuring that best practices are put in place to help our fellow New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The board, which now consists of professionals whose collective experience span the private, non-profit and public sectors, is well-equipped to support ThriveNYC and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in delivering services that will benefit our New Yorkers who are most in need. I look forward to working with the Board.”
“The dynamic intellect and proven ability of today’s appointees to the Community Services Board will bring an additional dimension of support and vigor to changing the culture and expanding services for untreated mental illness and substance misuse. I am excited to work with them,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, who spearheads ThriveNYC.
“Today’s appointees bring a wealth of experience and perspective to the Community Services Board,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “Their knowledge will not only help us identify gaps in mental health and substance misuse treatment, but they will also guide us in the development of programs that address the mental health needs of all New Yorkers.”
The reappointed members of the Community Services Board include Gail B. Nayowith, Dr. Sarah Church and Dr. Roberto Lewis-Fernandez.
Gail B. Nayowith, Chair of the Board, is the Principal of 1digit LLC, a management consulting and project management practice, and has worked in the health and human services sector for decades leading vital nonprofit provider, advocacy and philanthropic organizations.
Dr. Sarah Church is a licensed clinical psychologist, with a focus in substance abuse. Dr. Church is also Executive Director for Montefiore Medical Center’s Division of Substance Abuse and Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Dr. Roberto Lewis-Fernández is a licensed psychiatrist whose work includes overcoming disparities in the care of underserved U.S. cultural groups. He is the Director of the New York State Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence and a Professor at Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry.
The newly appointed members of the Community Services Board are Dr. Thelma Dye, Dr. Pankaj Patel, Dr. Stepahanie Le Melle, Dr. Rosa Gill, Louis Cohen, Wanda Greene, Jun Matsuyoshi, Diane Arneth, Lynnae Brown, Denise Rosario, Ahmed Jamil and Christy Parque.
Dr. Thelma Dye is a licensed psychologist and Executive Director and CEO of Northside Center for Child Development, one of New York’s oldest and most respected mental health agencies.
Dr. Pankaj Patel is a Board Certified Psychiatrist and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Sciences at Richmond University Medical Center.
“Mental illness is a medical illness. There is a broad spectrum of problems,” said Dr. Patel. Still, the common response to almost any of them is fear. “It could be something simple, like a panic attack,” he said, but the gut reaction from most people is “Something is wrong. They’re crazy.”
For Dr. Patel, however, mental illness is something he’s embraced, something that has shaped most of his day for the past 30 years – ever since he arrived at the former St. Vincent’s Hospital in West Brighton to begin his psychiatric training.
He said maintaining a clean bill of mental health over the course of time is tough for anyone. “All of us have a certain degree of becoming depressed in their lifetime,” he said.
Dr. Stephanie Le Melle MD is a licensed psychiatrist with a interest in the treatment and care of people with serious mental illnesses and complex needs. She is co-Director of Public Psychiatry Education at Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry and New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Dr. Rosa Gil is the Founder, President and CEO of Comunilife, Inc., whose mission is to expand access to housing, mental health and social services to increase the quality of life of underserved, diverse communities in New York City.
Louise Cohen is the CEO of the Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC), a non- profit Community Development Finance Institution, dedicated to expanding and strengthening the primary care safety net in the United States. She has over 25 years of experience in public health, public policy, program operations and community health needs assessment.
Wanda Greene has over 22 years of family support under the Mental Health Association and is the Director of the Family Resource Center (Mental Association of NYC), where, among other things, she maintains partnerships with public and private entities throughout New York City to provide mental health services to high need, underserved communities.
Jun Matsuyoshi is Director of Mental Health Services, APICHA Community Health Center, where she oversees all mental health services.
Diane Arneth is the Executive Director of Community Health Action of Staten Island as well as a member of Brightpoint Health. Brightpoint Health is a community-based organization that provides direct services, education and advocacy to individuals, families, and communities challenged by health disparities related to poverty, discrimination, and lack of access.
Lynnae Brown is Director of Community Access at Howie the Harp Advocacy Center, a program of Community Access Inc. Brown oversees the peer-run employment program that has trained over 800 peers to work as peer providers in human resources.
Denise Rosario is the founding Executive Director of Coalition for Hispanic Family Services and has over 30 years of experience in mental health services to children and families of color in urban communities.
Ahmed Jamil is the President of the Muslim Society Community Center that offers education, youth development and community outreach programs catering to low-income families.
Christy Parque is President and CEO of the Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, an advocacy and training behavioral health coalition of over 140 non-profit substance use and mental health providers that serve over 450,000 residents in New York City and surrounding counties.
Sherry Glied, a non-member, is the Special Advisor to the Community Services Board. She is the Dean of the New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and former Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services, and served in that capacity from July 2010 through August 2012. She had previously served as Senior Economist for health care and labor market policy on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers in 1992-1993, under Presidents Bush and Clinton, and participated in the Clinton Health Care Task Force.
About the Community Services Board:
The Community Services Board (CSB) is mandated to advise the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in all areas related to the City’s community mental health and alcoholism facilities, services and programs. The CSB has been redesigned to advise on the advancement of a stronger public health approach to mental illness and substance use as outlined in the City’s comprehensive plan: ThriveNYC. New appointees represent a broad spectrum of communities, organizations and viewpoints to help engage people whose voices have previously gone unheard.