We applaud Mayor DeBlasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray for their leadership in creating the ‘roadmap’ for mental health in New York City. A major component of the plan is the expansion of Mental Health First Aid with the commitment to train 250,000 New Yorkers.  MHANYS through our statewide MHA network has been working towards the expansion of Mental Health First Aid.  Many of our affiliates are trained in Mental Health First Aid and are providing regional trainings.  This commitment by New York City leadership is an incredibly strong recognition of the importance of educating everyone in the community about behavioral health through the efficacy of Mental Health First Aid.

This commitment by the DeBlasio administration and Governor Cuomo’s signing on Saturday of the Mental Health Public Awareness Tax Check off  Bill shows a growing awareness of the impact that the stigma and discrimination of mental illness has on society and the importance of mental health literacy. We must continue utilizing this momentum by creating even more awareness,  greater mental health education in schools and the commitment to continue to work on issues of suicide prevention and veterans mental health issues.

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De Blasio administration unveils $850 million mental-health plan

The city revealed an ambitious plan to train 250,000 New Yorkers in mental-health first aid in order to identify and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse.

By Jonathan LaMantia

November 23, 2015

New York City will spend about $850 million over the next four years to improve mental-health services and expand access to care. The figure includes $305 million in new city spending on behavioral health.

The money will be used to launch ThriveNYC, a program first announced in January by first lady Chirlane McCray as the Roadmap for Mental Health. ThriveNYC will consist of 54 different initiatives, including 23 new programs. “With this roadmap, New York is stepping up and taking on a crisis that has been eroding the foundation of our city and destroying our families for far too long,” McCray said at a news conference on Monday.

The city revealed the first section of its roadmap on Nov. 12 when it chronicled the wide reach and economic toll of mental health in a report that showed that lost productivity tied to depression and substance abuse took a $14 billion annual toll on the city.

The initiative is organized around six principles: Change the culture; act early; close treatment gaps; partner with communities; use data better; and strengthen government’s ability to lead.

The set of programs unveiled today are all tied to one of those principles. In the lead-up to ThriveNYC’s unveiling, McCray held listening sessions in all five boroughs to gather feedback from community organizations and those who are affected by mental illness.

To change the culture, the city plans to train 250,000 New Yorkers in mental-health first aid, an educational program that helps community members, such as teachers, law enforcement and clergy identify and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use. The city will also start a public awareness campaign that aims to reduce the stigma of mental health and teach New Yorkers where they can access services.

ThriveNYC will start addressing mental-health issues in schools, starting with universal prekindergarten programs. Training will be provided to 9,200 teachers and school administrators to teach social and emotional skills to children to help them cope.

In 2017, the city will work to address mental-health issues in 100 more public schools and will hire 100 school mental-health consultants who will help students connect to services.

The initiative is meant to expand mental-health services in the city’s poorest communities, where there are higher rates of hospitalization due to mental illness. To target those areas the city will hire 400 doctors and masters- and doctoral-level clinicians. They will be the basis for a New York City mental-health corps that will dispatch personnel to mental health facilities, substance abuse treatment programs and primary care practices, where services are scarce.

The city also will expand access to two drugs that can be used to treat heroin users. More than 1,000 providers will be trained to prescribe buprenorphine, a drug that is used to help people curb use of opiates, such as heroin or morphine, and naloxone, which is given to people showing signs of opioid overdose.

Mayor Bill de Blasio will host the first Mayors’ Conference for Mental Health in 2016 to share ideas with leaders from other cities.

ThriveNYC puts New York City in a position to be at the forefront of addressing mental health as a public health issue.

Still, the provider community is concerned that the program has not been well coordinated with New York state officials from the Office of Mental Health and the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services. Those agencies oversee payments to providers treating Medicaid patients, a high-need group that ThriveNYC aims to reach.