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Astorino Appoints New Westchester County Mental Health Commissioner

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Astorino Appoints New Westchester County Mental Health Commissioner

January 24, 2015 - 00:50
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Dr. Mark Herceg with Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino

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WHITE PLAINS, NY -- County Executive Robert P. Astorino announced Friday the appointment of Dr. Mark Herceg, a lifelong Westchester resident, as the new Commissioner of Community Mental Health.

Herceg, who starts on Feb. 2, is currently the Director of Neuropsychology at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains. He is a professor of psychology in clinical neurology at Weill-Cornell Medical College and a member of the school's concussion clinic, consulting with local schools and amateur and professional athletes who have sustained concussions. Herceg is also a consultant psychologist to Silver Hospital in New Canaan, CT.

"We spent months searching for the best candidate and we found that person in Dr. Mark Herceg," said Astorino. "Mark's experience and enthusiasm will serve both him and the county very well as he leads this challenging and rewarding department."

The Department of Community Mental Health plans, oversees and coordinates services for individuals – and their families – with mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance abuse disorders.

"As a life-long Westchester resident, I am honored to be appointed to help ensure the mental health needs of fellow county residents are met," said Herceg. "I look forward to dedicating all my energy in this new role."

Herceg received his doctoral degree in Clinical Health Psychology with a concentration in Neuropsychology from the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University. He was trained at NYU Medical Center/Rusk Institute of Rehab Medicine and spent seven years on staff there. He has given presentations abroad on the subject of concussions and rehabilitation of brain injury and stroke, and wrote a chapter on concussion management in a Sports Law handbook published by the New York State Bar Association.

He lives in Irvington with his wife and three daughters.

Astorino also announced the promotion of Michael Orth to Deputy Commissioner of Community Mental Health. Orth is currently 2nd Deputy Commissioner and has been with the department since 1993. Astorino credited Orth with leading the effort to incorporate the nationally recognized Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) course and evidence-based suicide prevention training as part of Safer Communities, the county executive's initiative that focuses on violence and its causes as a public health issue. YMHFA provides parents, teachers and coaches with a simple tool kit to help identify and treat mental health issues in our young people at the earliest stage. Orth is a graduate of Iona College and has a Master's in Social Work from Fordham University.

Astorino also thanked Dr. Sherlita Amler, the county's Health Commissioner, who in addition to her regular duties, took on the leadership of the Department of Community Mental Health while a search went on to replace the former Mental Health Commissioner, Dr. Grant Mitchell.