Last month, NYC's first lady Chirlane McCray launched a free 24 hour mental health hotline as part of Thrive NYC, the program she spearheaded to increase access to mental health services and provide resources for New Yorkers suffering from anxiety and depression.
Today, she hopes to expand the initiative into a nation-wide coalition, known as "Cities Thrive."
At the inaugural "Cities Thrive" conference Tuesday morning at Fordham University, McCray announced her vision to create a national network of more than 300 cities by 2018 to enact mental health reform (so far, 26 cities are on board).
In the one week since Trump was elected president, the nation has seen a rash of hate crimes, petty violence, and even a spike in calls to suicide hotlines. As many struggle to come to terms with what the new presidency could bring—including, for many, potentially losing their health care if Trump succeeds in repealing the ACA—the "Cities Thrive" initiative is more crucial than ever, the city's first lady said.
"We don't yet know exactly what the next president and the next congress are thinking when it comes to mental health, which makes this coalition all that more vital," she said.
As one of the first steps of the new initiative, McCray plans to lobby senators for the passage of "The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act," which cleared the House of Representatives in July. The bill includes the creation of a new position in the Department of Health and Human Services: an assistant secretary of mental health and substance abuse disorders. It also proposes an increase in beds in psychiatric hospitals and expansion of mental health services to underserved communities.