NYC Mayor Unveils $850 Million Plan To Treat Mental Illness

By Victoria Kim 12/01/15

Mayor Bill de Blasio has a deeply personal connection to addiction and mental illness.

Mayor Bill de Blasio

The mayor of New York City has unveiled an ambitious $850 million program to increase access to mental health care for the city’s 8.4 million residents.

A recent report by the city’s Department of Health found at least one in five adult New Yorkers suffer from depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, or other psychological disorders every year.

One of the key components of Thrive NYC is the expansion of a mental health hotline that would not only provide around the clock service, connecting people to mental health professionals, but would actually follow up with appointments and ensure that patients have a plan moving forward.

The program would also train a quarter million New Yorkers in “mental health first aid” to better identify those in need.

The city’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, says mental illness is a public health crisis. “Too many New Yorkers in every community are not getting the help they need,” she said. According to the report, poor and minority residents are disproportionately affected by mental illness and are more likely than white New Yorkers to be misdiagnosed or untreated.

Another major theme of the program is to destigmatize mental illness through a public awareness campaign, to encourage those struggling to seek help.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, surrounded by his family as he unveiled the plan last week, took the first step in opening up about his own experience by speaking about his father’s struggle with alcoholism and PTSD. The mayor’s family has been open about daughter Chiara’s struggle with substance abuse and depression as well.

“It’s deeply personal,” McCray told NPR. “I wanted people to see us together because this is about families.”

“We can’t say we’re going to address this problem and break down the stigma but not talk about the fact that it’s in our own lives,” said de Blasio. “We’ve got to start with our own family.”

Much of the plan will roll out in early 2016, according to NBC New York.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr