Last Friday, Mayor de Blasio announced the permanent establishment of the City’s Mental Health Council to coordinate the promotion and implementation of mental health prevention and treatment programs across City agencies. The Mental Health Council, which is led by First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery, consists of 20 members representing mayoral agencies and offices from a variety of public sectors.
The plan to create the Mental Health Council was announced as part of ThriveNYC: A Mental Health Roadmap for All which was released last fall. The Roadmap outlines the Mayor’s multi-pronged, multi-stakeholder plan to improve the mental health system in the City. The plan is made up of 54 targeted initiatives, which are framed by six guiding principles that aim to prevent, detect, and treat mental health issues in New York. It calls on government agencies and employees, individual communities, healthcare workers, and other organizations and individuals to participate in a city-wide initiative to change the culture and outcomes surrounding mental health in the City.
The plan includes initiatives that vary from a public media campaign to destigmatize mental health issues to the expansion of public housing for individuals at high risk for developing mental health problems. The Roadmap also emphasizes the need for a well-trained and culturally diverse workforce in order to close treatment gaps. This will be the focus of the City’s May 2016 workforce summit which will focus on diversifying the direct care workforce to match the communities it will serve, standardizing and collecting workforce data, creating strategies to assist mental health workers in new collaborative models, and facilitating workforce growth.
A specific workforce component included in ThriveNYC is the role of peer specialists. Peer specialists provide coaching, support, information, guidance and motivation to those seeking or sustaining recovery from a mental health or substance abuse diagnosis. In New York State, there is the Certified Recovery Peer Advocate (CRPA) focused on substance abuse and recovery, and Certified Peer Specialist focused on mental health. To qualify for either of these certifications, individuals must receive specialized training and have lived experience. In January 2016, Medicaid began providing coverage for peer support services delivered by certified peer specialists to adults enrolled in Health and Recovery Plans. NYACH is currently working with partners to build training capacity for both certifications in NYC.
For more information on ThriveNYC, visit the Mental Health Roadmap website.