First lady Chirlane McCray announced in Corona on Monday a new initiative to get mental health counseling to every New Yorker.
NYC Well will provide mental health and substance misuse services to every New Yorker through phone, text and online chat 365 days a year. As part of ThriveNYC, the city’s program to address mental illness and substance abuse, the service will be available in more than 200 languages.
Services include crisis counseling and suicide prevention, referral to behavioral health services, mobile crisis teams that will be dispatched to the homes of those with mental illness who need help and follow-up services like reminders for appointments.
“All of us have been touched by this crisis either directly or through someone that we love and care about,” McCray said at the press conference. “With NYC Well, confidential and high-quality support is just one click or one call away.”
NYC Well will also provide short-term counseling via phone, text or chat until an appointment with a mental health professional can be scheduled. It differs from Lifenet, another city initiative that focuses more on suicide and crisis prevention.
Peer Specialists can also provide support, crisis diversion, information and referrals. The specialists have been trained to use their own life experiences with mental illness and substance abuse to help New Yorkers facing the same issues.
Anyone can use the service regardless of their income, insurance or citizenship status. New Yorkers can reach a counselor by calling 888-NYC-WELL, texting WELL to 65173 or chatting at nyc.gov/nycwell.
According to city studies, the average wait time to connect someone through the NYC Well service is 13 seconds. The service can handle 200,000 calls, texts and chats per year. About 83 full-time professionals are available to help and additional counselors and peer specialists will be available based on volume.
In addition to NYC Well services, the city has set up a system to screen 80 percent of new mothers and pregnant woman for maternal depression. By the end of this year, 10,000 New Yorkers will be trained in mental health first aid.
To treat the rise in heroin overdoses – a report found that there has been a 66 percent increase in overdose deaths in New York City from 2010-2015 and a 158 percent increase in heroin overdose deaths – Naloxone, which reverses overdose, is available without prescription at 700 pharmacies.
By the end of this year, every single city school will have mental health support.
NYC Well will cost $4.5 million a year. The city estimates that it loses $14 billion a year in productivity because of mental health and substance misuse and there are 70,000 emergency room visit in New York City every year because of alcohol misuse.
For more information about NYC Well, visit the website.