Project Access

Guidance Center talks about stigma, Blank Slate Media, April 17, 2018

by | Apr 19, 2018 | In The Media, Project Access

Left to Right: Andrew Malekoff, Sean Grover, Nicole Nagy, Kerry Lynn Eller, Nancy Manigat, and Reverend Gideon L.K. Pollach

On Friday April 13, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center hosted a program featuring Long Island author Nicole Nagy.

Nagy’s book, “Creative Mind: A Diary of Teenage Mental Illness,” is a moving first-person account of her mental health challenges and also of the roadblocks she faced when trying to access timely and affordable treatment.

Nagy, a graduate social work student at Stony Brook, has also become a Project Access advocate, fighting alongside the Guidance Center for timely, affordable access to mental health and addictions care.

The April 13 program featured Nagy’s discussion of her journey to healing and also addressed the battle to overcome stigma.

“In her book, Nicole writes with an authentic, courageous voice as she talks about her experiences with depression and anxiety,” said Andrew Malekoff, executive director of the Guidance Center. “With this book, Nicole has helped lift the fear of stigma by so honestly sharing her story. In addition, her advocacy for people struggling with mental health issues is very powerful. The battle for access to care is a matter of civil rights for millions of people.”

Even with excellent health insurance, Nagy said that getting access to treatment was very difficult. “It took weeks to get an appointment after I was hospitalized for a suicide attempt,” she said. When she was finally able to get the help she needed, she “learned to own and manage my illness and love myself.” Her goal is to share her story with everyone she can and give them hope.

The April 13 event included insights from an outstanding panel: Nancy Manigat, chief program officer of CN Guidance & Counseling Services; author and psychotherapist Sean Grover; Kerry Lynn Eller, a social worker at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center who has experienced the difficulty of accessing mental health care in her own family; and the Rev. Gideon L. K. Pollach, rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cold Spring Harbor.

“Nicole’s story shows that having mental illness and being successful are not mutually exclusive,” said Eller. Grover talked about the need for adults to remember what it was like being a teenager and to “tap into our humanity,” while Pollach spoke of the need for communities of faith to fight for parity for mental health and addictions treatment.

Manigat, Chief Program Officer of CN Guidance & Counseling Services, applauded Nagy for being an advocate, and also spoke about the importance of the Project Access study, which surveyed 650 Long Islanders about their experience trying to find mental health care. “We are so grateful for the opportunity to work with North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center on this very important study with the goal of improving access to lifesaving services for individuals living with a mental health and/or substance use disorder,” said Manigat. “Through our participation with Project Access, we were able to provide significant data which helped identify obstacles to care. At CN Guidance and Counseling Services, we believe in every individual’s ability to recover – and access to care is a necessary component of treatment. We are enthusiastic about the potential for change to come through the results of this survey.”

For more information about Project Access, email Guidance Center CEO Andrew Malekoff at You can order “Creative Mind” on

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