Troubled New Yorkers in need of a shoulder to lean on can call, text or online chat with a counselor for free 24 hours a day, New York’s first lady Chirlane McCray announced on Monday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and McCray released ThriveNYC: A Mental Health Roadmap for All, which includes the new hotline.
“We want New York City to be a place where people can live their lives to the fullest,” McCray said. “ThriveNYC is about more services, better services and easier access to services. It’s a plan of action that shows us how to treat mental illness—and also promote mental health.”
One in five adult New Yorkers face a mental health disorder each year, 8 percent of high school students in New York City report attempting suicide and more than one in four high school students report feeling persistently sad or hopeless, according to the mayor’s office.
Unintentional drug overdoses outnumber all homicides and motor vehicle fatalities combined, the office added.
McCray shared her own experience at a news conference in Queens, New York Daily News reported. Her daughter, Chiara, was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and the first lady said she didn’t know where to start.
"I will never forget those terrible weeks when it felt like help was hiding from us," she said. "My experience was not an exception; it was the rule."
“If you look at how mental illness has been addressed over the years, you see a lot of broken promises,” de Blasio said. “You don’t see a concerted, holistic effort to help people be well and stay well … It will take years to address the problem the way it should be addressed. But we need to start now, we need to start aggressively.”
The hotline will encompass more health concerns than LifeNet, the city’s previous mental health crisis hotline, which has been folded into ThriveNYC.
New Yorkers who need someone to talk to, a referral to a doctor or who don’t know how to cope with a family member with mental health or substance abuse problems can contact the hotline. A mobile intervention unit can be dispatched, if needed, under the new program.
The program will cost the city $5.3 million the first year, the Daily News reported. Each following year, the program will cost $4.5 million annually.
"Far too often, we see what happens when people can't get the help they need — the right kind of help and early on, before illness completely disrupts their life and relationships," McCray said, the Daily News reported.
For more information or to chat with a counselor, visit ThriveNYC's website. You can also reach out by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355) or texting WELL to 65173.