First Lady Chirlane McCray, Maria A. Oquendo, Melissa Mark-Viverito And Others Launch NYC Well

October 24, 2016

politics-in-harlemFirst Lady Chirlane McCray, along with the American Psychiatric Association President Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., Harlem Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, elected officials and health leaders, today announced the launch of NYC Well, a one-click, one call connection to counseling, crisis intervention, peer support and referrals to ongoing treatment services. NYC Well, a cornerstone of ThriveNYC, the City’s comprehensive plan to address mental illness and substance misuse, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year through phone, text and chat. NYC Well is also accessible in more than 200 languages. Mental health professionals are available to help New Yorkers who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, mental health problems like depression and anxiety, and substance misuse. NYC Well is always free and confidential.

“If you or someone you care about struggles with mental illness or substance misuse, you shouldn’t have to struggle to get help. With NYC Well, support is as close as your phone or computer,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, who spearheads ThriveNYC. “No matter where you live or how much money you make, you can reach out to NYC Well with a call, text or chat. If you are a spouse worrying that drugs or alcohol are taking over your partner’s life; a parent concerned about changes in your teenager’s behavior; so stressed that you can’t work or so sad and lonely, you struggle to leave your home, NYC Well is here for you. The service is free, confidential and accessible in more than 200 languages, 365 days of the year and 24/7. Just like our city, it never sleeps.”

“Stigma and often just limited access to information and guidance still prevent people from seeking and receiving help with mental illness and substance misuse, even in high income countries and cities. We must take action to close those gaps, and that is what New York City is doing with ThriveNYC and NYC Well. NYC Well is the kind of resource we need so much more of:  one that helps close this gap for people,” said Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the World Health Organization in Geneva.

“It is with great excitement that I commend the launch of NYC Well, which will link every New Yorker in need of mental health care with essential services,” said American Psychiatric Association President Maria A. Oquendo, M.D. “NYC Well will greatly improve access to mental health care and provide services early on, when they are most effective.  Importantly, NYC Well is poised to set an example for other U.S. cities to follow.”

NYC Well is a significant expansion of the City’s previous crisis line, LifeNet, adding services that can help New Yorkers in need. In addition to crisis counseling and suicide prevention and referral to mobile crisis teams, NYC Well can offer short term counseling, peer support, and follow-up services to help keep New Yorkers connected to care – including those suffering from milder mental health issues and those experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression or addiction.

Core NYC Well Services

NYC Well is an easy way for New Yorkers to connect to counseling, crisis intervention, peer support and referrals to care. Services include:

  1. Crisis Counseling and Suicide Prevention: Trained counselors will provide crisis and suicide prevention counseling. If someone is in danger of hurting themselves or others, the phone operator helps by counseling them and connects them to appropriate services, including EMS and other crisis intervention services.
  1. Referral to Behavioral Health Services: NYC Well will help New Yorkers connect to a mental health provider who takes their insurance, is in a convenient location and who speaks their language. NYC Well counselors can even stay on the line to help make the first appointment.
  1. Mobile Crisis Teams: When a New Yorker or a loved one can’t or won’t help themselves, NYC Well will assess whether to send a team of mental health professionals to meet the person in their home so they can be connected to care.
  1. Follow-up Services: NYC Well will offer all users the option for extra support, like receiving reminders for first appointments, contact while waiting for an appointment and follow-ups to make help users stay connected to care. Follow-up services were not offered through LifeNet.
  1. Short-term Counseling: NYC Well will offer brief counseling via phone, text, or chat if needed to provide stabilizing support until an appointment can be scheduled. This is also a new service.
  1. Peer Support: Certified Peer Specialists will provide support, crisis diversion, information, and referrals. Talking to someone who has been trained to use his or her own life experiences with mental health and/or substance abuse can help those in need. Peer Specialists will provide appropriate, compassionate, and effective support, as well as crisis diversion. Peer support was not available through LifeNet.

To educate New Yorkers about what mental illness looks like, destigmatize mental illness and addiction, and drive those who need help to NYC Well, the City is launching an advertising campaign. The campaign will be targeted in high-need, underserved areas. It will run on subways, TV, online, and on social media. Additionally, posters will be distributed to mental health providers and community partners. Information about NYC Well will also be distributed to houses of worship and clergy members.

New Yorkers feeling symptoms of anxiety, depression, or addiction should first seek help from friends, family, or a health care professional. However, there are many who do not have this option or don’t know where to turn. For those who need help, NYC Well is one point of entry to the City’s array of behavioral health services. It is free, confidential and available to anyone regardless of the language they speak, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year long. New Yorkers can access NYC Well by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL, texting WELL to 65173, or online chat by going to Phone counseling is available in English, Spanish, or Chinese, with translation available in more than 200 languages. Text and chat are available in English, Spanish and Chinese.

“For too long, too many families haven’t had a place to turn for mental health support in New York City. NYC Well changes that. Now, help with a range of issues from depression and anxiety to substance misuse and help with an urgent crisis is available 24/7 by phone, text or chat,” said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives.”Having this revolutionary new service means we can truly say that no one who needs care will have to go without it. NYC Well is a significant milestone in achieving this Administration’s goal of reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and increasing access to much needed mental health services.”

“The Council and Administration are dedicated to reducing the stigma that has for too long, prevented New Yorkers from seeking treatment for mental illness,” said Harlem Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

“The Council and Administration are dedicated to reducing the stigma that has for too long, prevented New Yorkers from seeking treatment for mental illness,” said Harlem Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “NYC Well will make it easier for New Yorkers to connect with counselors and to seek out mental health and substance abuse programs. We look forward to our continued work to expand and enhance resources available to those struggling with mental illness and substance misuse.”

“NYC Well is a significant enhancement to the City’s crisis line, and it allows New Yorkers to be connected to mental health services from wherever they are,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “For anyone who wants help, or knows someone who may need help, NYC Well brings new services like peer and follow up support to provide guidance from a friendly and compassionate person.”

“We realized early on that to serve the mental health needs of New Yorkers, we have to re-think how people can get linked to care, and that includes doing things like joining traditional crisis access with ways to actually find and stick with ongoing services,” said Executive Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Gary Belkin. “As with much of ThriveNYC, NYC Well shows how cities can further lead on these issues.”

“I commend First Lady Chirlane McCray and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, led by Commissioner Mary T. Basset, for spearheading the development of NYC Well, which will help thousands of New Yorkers live better, healthier lives,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Fortunately, mental health problems are treatable and NYC Well will make it easier to deliver treatment to those who need it most.

“This is a ground breaking program that addresses an important unmet need. We know that one of the biggest barriers to getting appropriate mental health treatment is the availability of readily available mental health services. NYC Well bridges that gap. It is a bold, innovative program in keeping with the tradition of excellence long embodied by the NYC Health Department,” said Dr. Sandro Galea, Dean and Robert A. Knox Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health.

“As a leader in crisis, information and  hot line services for over 20 years MHA-NYC is proud to be a part of NYC Well, which brings state of the art support services to all New Yorkers in need, when and where they need it,” said Giselle Stolper, President and CEO of the Mental Health Association of New York City. “Anyone who is facing a behavioral health challenge or calling on behalf of someone with a challenge will be able to access enhanced and confidential resources via phone, chat, text and the web. It’s also so important that for the first time callers will also be able to speak with others who have experienced similar behavioral health challenges through a new peer support line.”

“As social stigmas continue to surround mental illness, it’s imperative to find ways to make access to treatment easier – and NYC Well does just that,” said Congressman Joe Crowley. “I’m pleased to see the City taking these critical steps to establish the type of support system that’s necessary to address mental illness and help New Yorkers in need. NYC Well will help save lives and I thank First Lady Chirlane McCray for her leadership on this issue.”

State Senator Jose Peralta said, “Mental illness affects thousands and thousands of New Yorkers, and it is vital that people suffering from this condition get counseling and treatment in a confidential manner. I want to thank New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray for launching NYC Well, a program that will provide help and support utilizing 21st century technology.”

“Mental health is a critical but often overlooked component of overall wellness. Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray have placed an important focus on improving New Yorkers’ access to mental health services. Through ThriveNYC and complementary initiatives like NYC Well, New York City’s proactive leadership to improve mental health is becoming a model for local and state governments around the country,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan, Chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Health.

“I applaud First Lady Chirlane McCray and Mayor de Blasio for increasing services for mental health. We have a historically ignored and neglected population who desperately need these services to Thrive. This is a common sense approach that will lead us to no longer rely on the criminal justice system to treat mental illness,” said Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubrey.

“Mental health issues do not wait for anyone and many New Yorkers, particularly young people, may lack the resources and support to get professional help. NYC Well is a powerful tool that can reach individuals living with mental illnesses right when they need it. I applaud the Administration for continuing its efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness and providing meaningful solutions to residents in New York City,” said Council Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.

“Assistance at the touch of your fingertips – thanks to NYC Well and First Lady Chirlane McCray. Mental health support services are now accessible via text, call or online chat to all New Yorkers, that means confidential professional help is available 24/7/365 from anywhere in the city. This Administration’s goal to make mental health a priority for everyone is becoming a reality as each initiative from Thrive NYC is rolled out one by one; NYC Well is yet another initiative enacted in their overwhelming efforts to break down barriers to service and destigmatize mental health issues,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen.

“New Yorkers now have a way to connect loved ones to care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” said Linda Rosenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Council for Behavioral Health.  “With crisis counseling, appointment assistance, and even follow-up services – all accessible through phone, text, and chat – NYC Well is an invaluable resource for help with mental illness and substance misuse.”

“NYC Well is a truly unique initiative. Beacon is thrilled to be a part of this, in partnership with MHA and the City of New York, that will be critical to helping put behavioral health services and supports within everyone’s reach,” said Dr. Jorge Petit, Regional Senior Vice President, National Client Partnerships – New York State for Beacon Health Options. “The NYC Well website also makes it easier for the public to learn about behavioral health issues and access appropriate services with immediacy from their phone, tablet or home computer. Importantly, NYC Well doesn’t stop with just information or a referral; we are here to help support an individual until they are engaged with the right services, the right providers and at the right location.”

“NYC Well is a vital channel that allows New Yorkers to connect to behavioral health services,” said Christy Parque, Chief Executive Officer and President of the Coalition for Behavioral Health. “This Administration recognizes the work and ongoing challenge of providers as partners in working to make accessibility and familiarity a reality for more New Yorkers.”

“We praise First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Buery on NYC’s new 24 hour hotline as part of the ThriveNYC initiative. As a substance use disorder provider, we have witnessed firsthand the self-medicating related to addressing many times people’s undiagnosed and unaddressed mental health conditions. Having the ability to get assistance and referrals in real time situations can very well be the beginning to a life-changing experience for New Yorkers struggling in silence,” said Saeeda Dunston, Executive Director of Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities.

NYC Well’s provider, the Mental Health Association of NYC, had previously operated 1-800-LifeNet. MHA-NYC is a national leader in mental health services, advocacy and education with a long established expertise in serving individuals with mental health and substance use disorders.

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