Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray, along with Council Member Julissa Ferraras-Copeland , introduced the bill to protect the livelihood of survivors in NYC. Photo: File

New York Mayor de Blasio explained Thursday afternoon his $22 million investment in mental illness that will proactively help those in need before a crisis occurs.

De Blasio opened up the Media Roundtable in City Hall by explaining the urgency of this initiative. He stressed that the mission is not just targeted for the homeless, as some news outlets reported, but to help all New Yorkers, regardless of socioeconomic background.

A big challenge is the stigma against mental illness, according to the mayor, who emphatically remarked that he will not propagate stereotypes nor stigmatize individuals.

"Every person can lead a life of dignity," affirmed de Blasio.


This "NYC SAFE" plan is only "just one piece in a much larger puzzle," stated First Lady Chirlane McCray. McCray planned to discuss a more encompassing mental illness plan in the fall.

Specifically, this plan, with its $22 million dollar investment, included a central place of information, called "the hub," that would pool the information about people with mental illness to all city agencies. The levels of coordination are unprecedented, according to the city officials at the discussion. The mentally ill in the data pool were to receive more diligent follow-up and treatment to insure that no-one "falls through the cracks," in de Blasio's words.

"We need to connect people to resources before a condition that is totally treatable becomes a family misery or a societal tragedy," stated McCray. She emphasized that prevention and intervention are key to effective change.

Other city officials delved into the new key components of the plan. Susan Herman, NYPD Deputy Commissioner, informed that five mobile teams will proactively identify people with mental health problems and go into the field rather than wait for a crisis situation.

Gary Belkin, Executive Deputy Commissioner for Mental Hygiene, explained that measures will be taken to reconnect people to care and respond if current care is failing.

"This is a call to action to every New Yorker that we hear you and we are investing in your future," saidVanessa Gibson, Chair of Public Safety Commission.

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