Blazejewski, Murray named Legislators of the Year by Mental Health Association of R.I.

From left, Senate Deputy Majority Leader Melissa A. Murray, Mental Health Association of Rhode Island Executive Director Laurie-Marie Pisciotta and House Majority Leader Christopher R. Blazejewski following the presentation of the association’s Legislator of the Year awards.


STATE HOUSE – At an event today kicking off its “May is Mental Health Month” campaign, the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island (MHARI) honored House Majority Leader Christopher R. Blazejewski and Senate Deputy Majority Leader Melissa A. Murray as the group’s Legislators of the Year.

Leader Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence) is being honored for his advocacy in establishing establish Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) in the state through the 2023 state budget. CCBHCs are specially designated clinics that provide a comprehensive range of mental health and substance use services. The organization’s leaders also pointed to his longtime leadership on efforts to end homelessness and to provide housing and services to unhoused Rhode Islanders, to expand economic opportunity for working families and to support education and senior services.

“I’m grateful for this recognition of our work in the House, led by Speaker Shekarchi and with the support of many House colleagues. I’m also thankful for the partnership and hard work of the members of the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island and the many advocates, mental health professionals and volunteers whose efforts each day provide safety, dignity and support to Rhode Islanders. Their determination has improved access to critical services as well as greater understanding in our society that mental health is something we can and must talk about. I feel fortunate to walk alongside such dedicated advocates toward a future where every Rhode Islander can access all the support they need, without shame, and with the hope that comes with knowing they will be supported,” said Leader Blazejewski.

MHARI recognized Deputy Majority Leader Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) for numerous initiatives she has sponsored to improve Rhode Islanders’ lives: her passionate advocacy to establish an ombuds for special education; legislation to require annual status reports on low and moderate income housing applications; bills to cap out-of-pocket expenses for patients; legislation to extend the lifetime limit for Rhode Island Works benefits and increase the monthly cash benefit to 50% of the federal poverty level; and a law prohibiting licensed health care facilities from discriminating against patients on the basis of age, sex, race, gender and other characteristics. During the pandemic, when many Rhode Islanders were struggling with behavioral health conditions and isolation, Senator Murray sponsored legislation to allow Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to meet during a state of emergency.

“I am humbled and honored to be recognized as a 2024 Mental Health Association of Rhode Island Legislator of the Year. There are so many heroes across Rhode Island who tirelessly dedicate themselves to supporting the mental and behavioral health of our communities, and I am fortunate to serve alongside many of them in the Senate. Our work to provide the support and tools needed to address these vital services is urgent. The mental wellbeing of individuals is directly related to the health and happiness of families across Rhode Island,” said Senator Murray.