It's been the most visible project by the city's First Lady, Chirlane McCray — an effort to overhaul the city's mental health care system. After months of deliberations, she unveiled the nearly $1 billion plan Monday, as NY1's Erin Billups reports.
Eighteen Yankee stadiums still wouldn't be enough room to house every New Yorker wrestling with diagnosable depression.
Officials say major depressive disorder is the single greatest source of disability in the city. Yet finding help can be hard.
"We are facing a public health crisis," the first lady said. "Too many New Yorkers in every community are not getting the help they need."
On Monday, McCray unveiled a de Blasio administration plan called "Thrive NYC" that she says will help.
It's a package of 54 initiatives costing $850 million over four years.
It relies heavily on peer counselors, who are not mental health professionals but are already entrenched in underserved communities.
"It's about building capacity by training people who already do this work," McCray said.
As part of the plan, the lifenet mental health hotline will be expanded several times over by next fall. The 24-hour service will not only connect people to care, but provide them with a navigator.
"After your appointment is in place they will follow up with you to make sure you follow up with your appointment to make sure you have a service plan moving forward and make sure you are following up in that care," explains Richard Beury, deputy mayor for strategic policy.
One of the plan’s biggest objectives will be a battle against stigma — an attempt to normalize mental illness so people discuss it as they would a broken leg or a diabetes diagnosis. To that end, there will be an extensive public health campaign.
"This is one of the most comprehensive serious approaches by a city to take on a tremendous public health challenge," said Dr. Gary Belkin, executive deputy commissioner of the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygeine.
Parts of the plan have already rolled out. McCray, last week, announced that city-run hospitals plus Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn will universally screen newborn moms and get those with postpartum depression into treatment.
Officials acknowledge the plan is aggressively ambitious —attempting to make life easier for New Yorkers in every community of every age.
For more information about Thrive NYC visit its web site.