NYC Mayor and First Lady Release Mental Health Roadmap

Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray have released ThriveNYC: A Mental Health Roadmap for All. ThriveNYC is a plan of action to guide the city toward a more effective and holistic system that outlines 54 initiatives, 23 of them new, to support the mental well-being of New Yorkers. Additionally, ThriveNYC creates a model that can be applied nationally and a framework for advocacy.

ThriveNYC is a bold response to a challenging reality: one in five adult New Yorkers face a mental health disorder each year. Eight percent of high school students in New York City report attempting suicide, and more than one in four report feeling persistently sad or hopeless. Deaths because of unintentional drug overdose now outnumber both homicide and motor vehicle fatalities.

Many New Yorkers are suffering, even though mental health problems are treatable. In addition to the human toll, failure to adequately address mental illness and substance misuse costs New York City’s economy an estimated $14 billion annually in productivity losses.

ThriveNYC sets forth a plan to make sure that New Yorkers can get the treatment that they need – and lays out an approach that will improve the mental wellbeing of all New Yorkers. The plan sets forth six principles for achieving long-term change:

  • Change the culture by making mental health everybody’s business and having an open conversation about mental health.
  • Act early to prevent, intervene more quickly and give New Yorkers more tools to weather challenges.
  • Close treatment gaps by providing equal access to care for New Yorkers in every neighborhood.
  • Partner with communities to embrace their wisdom and strength and to collaborate for culturally competent solutions.
  • Use data better to address gaps and improve programs.
  • Strengthen government’s ability to lead by coordinating an unprecedented effort to support the mental health of all New Yorkers.

Taken together, these principles outline a public health approach to mental wellness that charts a path toward a healthier and happier future for all New Yorkers. ThriveNYC focuses on promoting mental health, preventing illness, and detecting problems early, in addition to treating mental illness.

Similar approaches have dramatically improved public health issues. For example, through a combination of policy bans on smoking, broad public communications, increased federal, state and local excise taxes and increased access to treatment tools, New York City cut the adult smoking rate by 35 percent in about a decade. The youth rate fell even more – by 52 percent.

“If you look at how mental illness has been addressed over the years, you see a lot of broken promises,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “You don’t see a concerted, holistic effort to help people be well and stay well. The people of NYC needed something different, something like ThriveNYC. It will take years to address the problem the way it should be addressed. But we need to start now, we need to start aggressively. The people of NYC deserve nothing less.”

“We want New York City to be a place where people can live their lives to the fullest,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “ThriveNYC is about more services, better services and easier access to services. It’s a plan of action that shows us how to treat mental illness – and also promote mental health.”

“Mental illness truly impacts the lives of every New Yorker – our quality of life, our health and our economy,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery. “New York City can and will ensure that all New Yorkers have access to the services and treatment they need to feel better and live healthier. ThriveNYC is a plan of action to guide us towards a more holistic public health system that prevents, detects and treats mental illness‎.”

“Like much of the United States, New York City is facing a crisis when it comes to mental health. Mental illness and substance use disorders touch every family, and rank right up there with heart disease and diabetes as leading causes of poor health, shortening the healthy life years of New Yorkers,” said Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “But there has been insufficient attention to prevention, and the fragmented array of services has allowed too many New Yorkers to fall through the cracks. The challenges ahead are significant, and the mental health system will not be fixed overnight. But the Roadmap launched today sets our City on a new path – with new resources and an unprecedented political. commitment for all parts of city government to be part of the solution.”

“ThriveNYC fills both a vacuum of vision to align and guide policy, and a vacuum of credible action for realizing that vision. When we measure the huge impact and terribly common frequency with which mental illness and misuse of drugs and alcohol affects families in our city, it is clear we need to provide both,” said Gary Belkin, MD, PhD, MPH, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. ThriveNYC highlights include:

  • Mental health First Aid Training: The City will fund and facilitate the training of 250,000 New Yorkers, to better recognize the signs, symptoms and risk factors of mental illness and addiction and more effectively provide support.
  • Public awareness campaign: A city-wide public awareness campaign will reshape the conversation around mental health, promoting mental wellness and early intervention and educating New Yorkers about how to get services.
  • NYC Mental Health Corps: The city will hire 400 clinicians and recently graduated Masters and Doctoral-level clinicians to work in substance abuse programs, mental health clinics and primary care practices in high-need communities throughout the city. When fully staffed, this Corp can provide 400,000 additional hours of service.
  • Mayor’s Conference for Mental Health: In 2016, the City of New York will host the first Mayor’s Conference for Mental Health. The conference will bring cities together to share new ideas and promising initiatives and send a strong message that mental wellness must play a central role in ongoing policy development.
  • Mental Health in Schools: Building on the expansion of mental health services in Community Schools, the City will hire 100 School Mental Health Consultants who will work with every school citywide to ensure that staff and administrators have an outlet to connect students with immediate needs to care.

For an overview of or to download ThriveNYC, visit the Thrive NYC website:

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