First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery Announce Progress on ThriveNYC Initiatives That Serve Children During Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

Through ThriveNYC investments, every New York City public school has resources and services to prevent and care for mental illness in children

NEW YORK—To commemorate Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week observed annually on the first week of May, First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery share progress achieved through ThriveNYC to target interventions to New York City youth in order to prevent and treat mental health issues. 

ThriveNYC was launched November 2015 to transform the City’s approach to mental health and wellbeing for all New Yorkers. Approximately 93% of ThriveNYC initiatives are up and running, serving people who need care throughout the five boroughs. That includes the launch of all of the initiatives designed specifically to reach children.

Through youth-specific initiatives, ThriveNYC has equipped every New York City public school with resources and services – including school-based mental health clinics, mental health consultants serving in schools, a social-emotional learning curriculum in Pre-K for All and Early Learn programs, and more – designed to recognize and treat mental illness in children.

“With ThriveNYC, we are planting seeds to make sure the next generation of New Yorkers are healthier, in mind and body,” said First Lady of NYC Chirlane McCray. “Reaching children early with these initiatives, within their communities, helps enrich the lives of both children and their families. Our young people have so much talent and potential; we don’t want anyone to fall through the cracks. Since we have the research, evidence-based studies and resources to grow healthier children, we should use them. There is much more to do, but I believe we are off to a good start.”

“It’s time to take a public health approach to the mental health crisis we face in New York City – that means we need to focus on building resiliency in our youngest New Yorkers as they weather emotional challenges. Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is a great opportunity to make parents and caregivers across the City aware of ThriveNYC’s supports and resources that connect young people to services in the places where they live, play and learn, enabling them to thrive,” said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives.

Data collected to publish the ThriveNYC Mental Health Roadmap indicates that 27% of public high school students report feeling sad or hopeless and that 8% of public high school students report attempting suicide. Furthermore, while signs of mental illness are most likely to appear in youth, it is often many years before a person struggling with mental illness receives an accurate diagnosis.

ThriveNYC has prioritized an approach that allows City government to “Act Early” to target mental health interventions and resources that help the youngest children in New York City build resiliency against mental stressors and connect young people who are struggling with mental illness to care.

School-Based Mental Health Clinics in Community Schools

Community Schools are trusted places where students and their families can access a wide variety of essential resources including tutoring, job training, and hot meals. ThriveNYC has layered in mental health support to this array of services by establishing 54 new school-based mental health clinics in Community Schools across the City. Two additional clinics are on track to be established the end of the current school year.

Training Teachers, Principals and Schools Staff In Mental Health Awareness

ThriveNYC has trained over 7,600 elementary, middle or high school personnel at 464 schools to recognize depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts in children and connect students to help when necessary.

Mental Health Consultants for Schools

ThriveNYC has hired close to 100 mental health consultants serving nearly 900 New York City schools. These specialists help school principals troubleshot the needs of specific students and work with school leadership to understand their school’s mental health needs and connect schools to behavioral health resources that exist in their communities.

Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum

Through ThriveNYC, all early education teachers in the City’s Early Learn and Pre-K for All systems are being trained to bring a social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum into the classroom. Nearly 10,000 children ages 0-5 have already been reached through SEL.
ThriveNYC also reaches vulnerable children and families in the shelter system with targeted interventions.

Mental Health Services in Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelters

To serve the most vulnerable youth, ThriveNYC is integrating mental health support in shelters and drop-in centers where runaway and homeless youth – including many LGBTQ youth – are provided essential needs like clothing, food, and a warm, safe place to sleep. For these young people who have often had traumatic experiences, ThriveNYC provides a range of mental health interventions, includingpsychological evaluations, service referrals, and individual therapy.

Expansion of Newborn Home Visiting Program in City Shelters

Children’s mental health can be negatively affected by environmental stressors in the womb and from the moment they are born. ThriveNYC has expanded the Newborn Home Visiting Program to reach 1,600 more mothers of newborns with services including home visits, child development education, maternal depression screening, secure attachment and bonding exercises, safe sleep practices, and breastfeeding tips – all of which contribute to building strong mental health in newborns.

“Mental wellness is an inextricable part of overall wellness, and for too many years it was not treated that way. I am proud that our City is leading the way in caring for mental health, including for our children. I look forward to the new school-based mental health clinic at the Boys and Girls High School Campus joining the sixteen other schools across Brooklyn that provide services to students and their families,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“Acting early will make all the difference in effectively treating mental health illness in New York City,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health. “ThriveNYC’s focus on giving educators the resources to identify early signs of a mental health disorder is a key approach to getting our youngest children struggling with mental health illness the help they need.”

“ThriveNYC connects our students with the mental health care they need to succeed in the classroom,” said NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm.  “Mental health issues serve as barriers to learning.  These resources help teachers and parents address these obstacles, allowing our children to overcome them.  I applaud the administration for embracing this holistic approach to education.  I will continue to work to build upon this important effort.”

For more information about ThriveNYC initiatives, visit nyc.gov/ThriveNYC.