Danielle Pack McCarthy is stepping down as executive director of the Philipstown Behavioral Health Hub at 5 Stone St. in Cold Spring, which she helped establish in 2019.
How important has it been for The Hub to have its own space?
The fact that people know there’s somewhere they can go and meet in person is so beneficial. When I was working just eight hours a week through the Town of Philipstown [as substance abuse prevention and treatment coordinator], people were calling me for help. We’d meet in the filing room of Town Hall just to find a quiet space. Sometimes, local therapists would lend me space, but I was dealing with people in crisis, people wanting to talk in private about hard things. Now, people know that they can come in and meet with someone face-to-face. It’s been incredible. And much more professional.
What are you most proud of?
The team I’ve built. I started off as one person, just a couple of hours a week. Now we have a full-time and part-time care coordinator and a development manager. I wanted to develop a model for an organization in which anyone who walks through the door gets the same level of care, no matter who is behind the desk. You don’t find that in a lot of places; sometimes treatment can be hit-or-miss. What makes this model different is that it’s local. It’s for Philipstown residents. If we got too big, we’d lose that quality of care we’re so proud of. Eventually, we hope to hone this model and see it replicated in other communities. I’m also proud of the support the Town of Philipstown has given us, that it has increased and goes directly to The Hub and won’t be lost when I move on.
Have you succeeded in getting people to use The Hub’s resources?
We’ve proven this resource is needed in this community. People have been coming in, people have been calling, even in the middle of a pandemic. Thank God they had somewhere to go, a number to call. People are still getting comfortable with being able to walk in and see someone. But the fact that our doors are still open, 21/2 years later, says a lot.
Has the mental health landscape changed since The Hub Opened?
Depression, anxiety, substance abuse and self-medication are still the biggest issues. Addiction blew up due to the pandemic. People couldn’t get to their treatment, groups and medications. We’ve done a lot of work locally to destigmatize mental health. That’s also happening at the state and national level. Even at events like the Super Bowl, viewers saw ads for teletherapy. We’re getting the word out there that you are OK, you are not alone and that there are resources.
What’s next for The Hub — and you?
I will stay on until a new director is hired. The challenge will be to take The Hub from startup mode to the next level. That means securing sustainable funding. The American Rescue Plan Act and opioid settlements from the pharmaceutical companies can help. And we need Putnam County to step up. The Hub’s mission is close to my heart, so I’m not going anywhere. I’m teaching mental health first aid for Haldane’s ninth and 10th grade students. The curriculum ties in mental health and addiction nicely. It covers things like self-worth, self-esteem and bullying. Kids look to their friends more than adults. It’s about checking in on your friends and what to do when someone is in crisis or feeling left out.