In Response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Citywide Mental Health Infrastructure Proposal

For Immediate Release
Thursday, May 6, 2015

For More Information Contact:

Dacia Read
(212) 697-2323 x210

New York, NY – On May 5th, 2015, New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray outlined initiatives the de Blasio Administration proposes to fund with the $54.4M included in the Mayor’s FY16 Executive Budget to develop NYC’s mental health infrastructure. The FY16 investment, which would grow to $78.3M in FY17, will support the co-location and provision of mental health services with currently existing City services in non-clinical settings, such as shelters, schools and jails.

“The Children’s Defense Fund – New York (CDF-NY) applauds Mayor de Blasio for investing in the mental health and wellness of New York City residents, and paying particular attention to mental health needs of children and young adults,” said Melanie Hartzog, Executive Director of the CDF-NY. “Black children across the U.S. are 70% more likely than white children to not receive needed mental health services. This initiative will address one of the most understated racial health disparities impacting our City.”

“By co-locating mental health services with other City services, the Mayor is effectively leveraging unique opportunities to provide needed services to vulnerable populations, like low-income school children, homeless families, immigrant minors, and criminal justice-involved youth who may not otherwise connect with mental health care providers despite demonstrating an increased likelihood of need for such services,” said Lorraine Gonzalez-Camastra, Health Policy Director at CDF-NY.

Since 1992, CDF-NY has worked to ensure equitable, barrier-free access to quality physical, behavioral and mental health care services for New York’s children. In its recent report, Health + Education = Opportunity: An Equation that Works, CDF-NY discusses the unique advantages associated with co-locating physical and behavioral health care services in schools to maximize health and education outcomes for school children; and the need for a city-wide school health assessment to effectively deploy appropriate health care delivery services to students.

CDF-NY applauds Mayor de Blasio for prioritizing the use of a mental health needs assessments in 130 community school districts to identify and drive the placement of services in each district. “We are hopeful this will serve as a model for future district-wide assessments of other primary and physical health needs so that schools are appropriately resourced to improve a range of health and education outcomes for youth city-wide,” said Andrew Leonard, Sr. Health Policy Associate at CDF-NY.

CDF-NY commends the de Blasio Administration for following up on its commitment to address the unique, age-specific needs of youth under 21 who are incarcerated in City jails like Rikers. “By providing targeted mental health and substance abuse services to youth at Rikers, Mayor de Blasio is supporting the successful rehabilitation and re-integration of the hundreds of young people, primarily young men of color, who are currently processed and incarcerated in New York’s adult criminal justice system despite their status as adolescents,” said Beth Powers, Sr. Juvenile Justice Policy Associate at CDF-NY.