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First Lady McCray, Deputy Mayor Buery, Health Department Increase NYC Well Capacity to Serve More New Yorkers

March 2, 2017

NEW YORK––First Lady Chirlane McCray, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery and Health Department Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett today 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, from an average of 326 contacts a day in August 2016 to an average of 753 contacts a day last week.

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. A cornerstone of ThriveNYC, NYC Well continues to be free and confidential, available 24/7 and accessible in more than 200 languages.

"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.”

"By making it easier than ever before to reach out for help, NYC Well is connecting more New Yorkers to care, including those who are in need of treatment but haven't been able to access it until now," said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives who oversees the implementation of ThriveNYC. "As a central service of ThriveNYC, it is critical that we continue to make NYC Well available to more New Yorkers. Today's expansion allows us to do just that."

“We're pleased that NYC Well has already proven to be a valuable resource for thousands of New Yorkers,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “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."

The expansion of NYC Well follows a growing demand. 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.

“By increasing our crisis center’s capacity, we can help more New Yorkers in the moments when they most need support,” said Kimberly Williams, President of the Mental Health Association of New York City, which administers NYC Well. “We’re committed to continuing our collaboration to reach individuals in crisis wherever they are.”

“We are encouraged by the growing demand for NYC Well,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. “For too long, New Yorkers with mental health issues were stigmatized and suffered in silence; however, the First Lady’s initiative is successfully helping turn that around. Crisis counselors are trained, their network is expansive, and services are culturally sensitive, providing our residents with a comprehensive program to meet their complex needs. I am proud to support the expansion of NYC Well and look forward to positive, long-lasting effects on the lives of New Yorkers.”

New Yorkers can access NYC Well by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL, texting WELL to 65173, or online chat by going to nyc.gov/nycwell.

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pressoffice@health.nyc.gov

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