Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan announced on Thursday, March 2nd, a new three-pronged mental health program. Christened “Care, Community, Action: A Mental Health Plan for New York City,” the program will address child and family mental health, combat the drug overdose crisis, and support New Yorkers experiencing and suffering from serious mental illness (SMI). The program will come at a cost of $20 million.
“The COVID-19 pandemic — with the stress, isolation, and anxiety it brought so many of us — pushed mental health to the forefront of the conversation,” said Mayor Adams. “When it comes to health, we can no longer ignore the brain and focus just on the body any longer; we must address the whole person and the whole system. By investing in family and child mental health, addressing the overdose crisis, and supporting New Yorkers with serious mental illness, this plan focuses on where our need is greatest, going upstream to build a healthier city for all New Yorkers.”
The program will look to offer mental health care for youths and their families. This part of the program will specifically target high school-aged children. This will be done in such a way as to help and guide teenagers in their younger years so as to prevent worse problems later in their lives. An increase in cases of depression in teenagers and young adults means this is a necessity. The initiative will see the city bring youth, families, and the community together to consider the effects of social media on teenagers. There will also be a suicide prevention pilot program for the youth.
New York City has faced the difficulty of a drug crisis for years. This problem has persisted with 2021 seeing the worst drug overdose death statistics. With this program, the city will look to combat drug overdose deaths, looking to reduce the number by 15% by 2025. The city will look to expand and offer high-quality harm reduction services. The city will implement numerous services to combat other drug use and overdoses. This will be done by implementing addiction and drug-checking services.
With regard to residents suffering from serious mental illness, the city looks to provide the four pillars of care which are health care, housing, community, and crisis response. The city will ensure more New Yorkers living with SMI are connected to community-based care. Mobile treatment facilities will be expanded through Intensive Mobile Treatment (IMT) and Assertive Community Treatment (ACT)
“The city has experienced a once-in-a-century pandemic, record high overdose deaths, and growing mental health needs for our young people. Therefore, a comprehensive mental health plan for New York City is more critical today than ever before,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “This plan centers people, care, and compassion at the core of each of its strategies, and focuses on those who have been previously left behind. From child and family mental health to those struggling with substance use issues to those with more severe conditions needing specialized supports, it sets forth new and sustainable ways to support every New Yorker who needs it.”