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Mary Ann Walsh-Tozer ’69

Alumni Success Story

Alumna Gives Hope to Emotional Pain Sufferers

Mary Ann Walsh-Tozer ’69, who served as Commissioner of Mental Health for Rockland County until retiring in 2014, is passionate about giving hope to those who suffer from emotional pain. “The understanding of mental illness has changed dramatically since the beginning of my career. While there’s not necessarily a cure, there is an avenue for cure.”

Research now recognizes that mental illness is organically based; the problem is in the brain chemistry. Mental illness is now considered a disease, like diabetes or cancer. “The mentally ill used to be institutionalized for most of their life. Now they can get stabilized and go on to live their life.”

Walsh-Tozer first became interested in her field because of her friendship with her mentally disabled uncle. After graduating from Tappan Zee High School, she enrolled at RCC, an economical choice for the oldest of five children. Walsh-Tozer earned her BS in Psychology at Kent State University, Ohio, and Master of Arts in Social Work at SUNY Albany. She has been a New York State Certified Social Worker since 1975 and served as Commissioner of Mental Health for Rockland County from 1994 to 2014. A resident of Tappan, she started out in private practice but missed interacting with colleagues. “I found private practice very isolating. I realized I was better suited to managing people and coordinating care.”

Walsh-Tozer is delighted by the work RCC is doing to help students in emotional pain though such programs as biannual depression screening workshops. Where appropriate, referrals are made to the Student Development Center and/or outside agencies such as the Rockland Mental Health Department.

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