Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office
First Lady Chirlane McCray and City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett, M.D. have praised the results of NYC Well.
By Forum Staff
The City last Thursday announced an expansion of NYC Well, the free and confidential service that connects New Yorkers to mental health, crisis counseling and substance misuse services. Since its inception in the fall of 2016, NYC Well has seen a significant increase in usage, to an average of 753 contacts a day last week from an average of 326 contacts a day in October 2016.
In response to the great demand, the program has expanded its current capacity to handle 200,000 calls, texts and chats a year to 290,000 calls, text and chats a year. Part of the ThriveNYC initiative, NYC Well is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and accessible in more than 200 languages, according to the administration.
“No New Yorker should be left on hold when it comes to their care, or the care of a loved one,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “We launched NYC Well in October to make sure that any New Yorker struggling with their mental health or substance misuse would not also have to struggle to find help. The number of people calling NYC Well reflects the need people have for a connection to mental health care. In the fall of 2016, there was an average of 326 contacts with New Yorkers per day, and as of last week that number is over 750. The data also indicated the need to do more to keep up with the demand. That is why we are expanding our annual counseling capacity by nearly 50 percent.”
The expansion of NYC Well follows a growing demand, the City said. In the month of January, the system received 20,959 contacts (via calls, texts, and chats). During that month, NYC Well crisis counselors spoke with 8,270 people about their mental health treatment history, including 2,359 (29 percent) who reported no prior treatment. Crisis counselors made 4,681 referrals to behavioral health services. Counselors are skilled at matching people with the most appropriate services, including crisis services. Counselors may teach coping skills, de-escalate the situation so that it does not develop into a bigger crisis, refer to a crisis team that visits the person urgently in their home or, in very rare circumstances, connect to 911 for an ambulance.
“We’re pleased that NYC Well has already proven to be a valuable resource for thousands of New Yorkers,” said City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett, M.D. “Increasing our capacity allows us to provide free, confidential counseling and resources to even more New Yorkers. If you’re not sure who to talk to about your mental health, NYC Well is here for you – 24/7/365.”