Thursday, October 6, 2016

NYC First Lady Describes ThriveNYC, Urges Psychiatrists to Be Advocates

Our mental health moment is now,” said New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray in a passionate Opening Session address at APA’s fall meeting, IPS: The Mental Health Services Conference, being held today through Sunday in Washington, D.C.

She said support for improving access to mental health care has never been stronger. “Across the country, communities large and small are coming together to shatter the stigma of mental illness and develop real solutions.” 

McCray, who received the APA Patient Advocacy Award from APA President Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., described ThriveNYC: Mental Health Roadmap, an ambitious program in New York City to improve access to mental health care there. The program, a signature achievement of McCray’s, is founded on six principles as described on the ThriveNYC website
  • Change the culture: It’s time for New Yorkers to have an open conversation about mental health.
  • Act early: New Yorkers need more tools to weather challenges and capitalize on opportunities. That can happen through investment in prevention and early intervention.
  • Close treatment gaps: Disparities in care can be addressed by providing New Yorkers in every neighborhood with care in their own communities. “We will address not only gaps in access and availability,” states the website, “but in effectiveness and impact.”
  • Partner with communities: By embracing the wisdom and strength of local communities, effective and culturally competent solutions can be created through collaboration.
  • Use better data: Better data mean better treatment, better policies, and better interventions.
  • Strengthen government’s ability to lead: New York’s government has a responsibility to support mental health. “We’re taking that seriously by serving as the clearinghouse to drive change,” states the website.
McCray also spoke of her own family’s experience with mental illness when her 18-year-old daughter required treatment for depression, anxiety, and addiction.

“Here was our child, in terrible pain. And I wished I could love her into wellness. But I didn’t know where to turn. ... Thankfully, our family got lucky. We connected with wonderfully caring professionals and found enough of what we were looking for. I’m proud to say that our daughter is doing well and recently graduated from college. But even after our own family’s crisis subsided, I could not forget how difficult her journey was and how difficult it must be for other families. ... And that is how ThriveNYC was born.

In comments to Psychiatric News following her remarks, McCray said the single most important role psychiatrists can plan in assisting the goals of ThriveNYC is advocacy through APA. “APA has so much power.”

(Image: David Hathcox)


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