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New York City Unites Diverse Leaders Across the Country for Weekend of Faith

May 16, 2019

Over 2,500 clergy and community leaders promote education and resources for mental health support in largest effort of its kind

NEW YORK––Thousands of leaders in New York City and across the United States will join ThriveNYC’s fourth annual Weekend of Faith for Mental Health from May 16th to May 19th. Participating faith communities will hold open conversations about mental health to educate their congregations about available support and resources, and encourage members struggling with mental illness and addiction to seek help.

This year’s event begins with the City’s annual Iftar, bringing together hundreds of people of all faiths to celebrate Ramadan with a fast-breaking meal at sundown.  Since beginning in 2016, the Weekend of Faith has more than doubled its reach and expanded to include national participation. For the first time this year, more than thirty national and regional interfaith alliances are partnering with ThriveNYC. Each alliance represents hundreds of houses of worship from many different faith traditions.

“For too long, mental health has been taboo – a subject for whispers instead of sermons. The Weekend of Faith for Mental Health is bringing a much-needed conversation out into the open.” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Faith leaders often serve as first responders for people and families struggling with mental illness and addiction. At a time when faith communities themselves are under attack, it is more important than ever we provide them with the resources they need to support their communities.”

The Weekend of Faith sparks important conversations about mental health to reduce stigma and build systems of support. Participating communities receive a toolkit that serves as a guide for talking about mental health and connecting people to the care they need.

“Faith communities are critical sources of support for many New Yorkers and ThriveNYC is proud to partner with houses of worship to help all New Yorkers struggling with mental health challenges connect to support.” said Susan Herman, Director of Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC.

In New York City, people in need are encouraged to call NYC Well (1-888-NYC-Well), a helpline that serves as a central point of entry to all mental health and substance misuse services in the city. Mental health support through NYC Well is available to all New Yorkers, regardless of insurance coverage or immigration status, and translation services are available in over 200 languages. Since its launch, NYC Well has responded to over 550,000 calls, texts and chats from individuals seeking mental health support.

For more information about how to participate in ThriveNYC’s Weekend of Faith for Mental Health, click here.

“I’ve been privileged to see Thrive grow from an idea to a movement. It has been powerful to see Thrive engage so many people of faith in the work of mental health and wellness,” said Reverend Dr. Cheryl Anthony, Judah International Christian Center.

“The Sikh Cultural Society is excited to continue our partnership with ThriveNYC to normalize conversations on mental health in our community through community-centered events, health fairs, and trainings,” said Harpreet Toor, the Sikh Cultural Society. “We look forward to continuing this important work into the 4th annual Weekend of Faith with the First Lady of New York City.”

“We all recognize that the old African phrase ‘it takes a village’ applies to many things. Among them is dealing with mental health. Our faith communities are the ‘villages’ within which those suffering from mental illness can seek first refuge. Caring for those who are suffering within our communities is a fundamental theological and moral principle of every faith tradition.  Helping our faith communities to prepare to be able to understand and be responsive to those needs and challenges is the goal of the Weekend of Faith,” said Dr. James Buchanan, Director of the InterfaithCincy.

“With so much tragedy going on in the world, faith leaders need good resources to guide their communities as they face anxiety and depression. Thrive has provided our congregations with much needed resources to care for our communities of faith and beyond and dismantle stigmas related to mental health,” said Reverend James Richmond, the World Church of Seventh Day Adventist Church.

“Our coalition of faith partners in Washington County, Maryland supports the effort to destigmatize mental health as a vital component to improving the overall health and spiritual wellness of our community,” said Kathy Powderly, Hagerstown Area Religious Council.

"The Greater Springfield Community Church stands as a firm supporter with the City of New York for the ThriveNYC Weekend of Faith to bring awareness of mental health to the forefront. In a city with nearly 9 million people and hundreds of thousands and family members who are impacted by mental illness, as a faith-based organization we believe it is part of our mission to support this initiative and do all we can to help change, support, and transform individuals and families affected with mental illness,” said Reverend Dr. Phil Craig

“We cannot pray depression away. Mental health education is often missing in the faith community and in communities of color. This puts us at risk of losing wholesome human functioning. There is no health without mental health. Wholesome mental functioning is the development of a good equilibrium between the psychological, emotional and spiritual. This balance enables interpersonal competence, and cognitive stability that is built on truth, reality and spiritual balance.  We need to remove the stigma from mental challenges and promote wellness through education and professional intervention,” said Pastor Warner A. Richards, Senior Pastor of The Hanson Place Church.

 “ThriveNYC recognizes the importance of the faith community in helping to ensure access to quality mental health resources for everyone, as people experiencing challenges often turn first to their faith leaders for help,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies.  “Every year the Weekend of Faith gives houses of worship the opportunity to let congregants know that resources and supports are available, and that they should not struggle or try to manage such challenges on their own.”

“Stress and depression are challenges everywhere and no one should face them alone. ThriveNYC Weekend of Faith for Mental Health will bring together local clergy and other commmunity leaders to help raise awareness on the importance of mental health. I applaud First Lady of New York City for leading this initiative and starting a conversation about mental health and wellness in our communities,” said Congressman Jose Serrano.

“I am pleased that ThriveNYC is collaborating with houses of worship to facilitate discussions around Mental Health. We rely on our houses of worship for support and guidance, and this collaboration helps to eliminate the stigma around Mental Health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression. Mental wellness is vital to the health and development of community members of all ages.” said Assemblyman Charles D. Fall.      
          
“Mental health illness affects all corners of our society,” said Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez. “From our schools to our houses of worship. From stress and anxiety to depression. It is imperative that we de-stigmatize such issues and really work to help each other overcome our tribulations. By making ourselves available and ready to address the larger issue of mental health, we can start helping our fellow community members.”

"I applaud First Lady Chirlane McCray and the entire ThriveNYC team for understanding how important it is to engage clergy in conversations about community mental health and reducing stigma.  As a long-time mental health specialist and behavioral health provider, I am excited to participate in ThriveNYC's Weekend of Faith in my new capacity as Assemblymember for Southern Brooklyn and partner with them to offer a mental health workshop for clergy across my district.  Religious leaders are often on the front lines in their community as trusted advisors and counselors and it is crucial that they have the necessary tools to help them facilitate conversations about difficult topics such as anxiety, depression and suicide. The Weekend of Faith is a wonderful opportunity for clergy to break the ice and to get entire congregations engaged in this much needed dialogue,” said Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus.

“A lot of times, people don’t realize that they can get help with a mental health issue.  Over half a million New Yorkers experience depression every year, only 40% of those in need report receiving care.  In my role as an elected official, a pastor and a mental health professional, I know how important it is to get help.  The good news is our city government has stepped up and is providing many free, confidential options through NYC Well, a 24/7 helpline that provides a single point of entry for mental health and substance abuse help in over 200 languages.  This is a big step in making all New Yorkers healthier, happier and more productive and I commend this initiative,” said Council Member Fernand Cabrera.

"New Yorkers with mental health issues continue to suffer in our City. Whether it is the stigma associated with seeking treatment or the actual battles with mental illness in daily life, there has to be a focus on helping individuals who face these issues each and every day," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "By working with faith-based organizations ThriveNYC will get to the heart of this issue and have direct access to many individuals who suffer. Thank you to this administration for making mental health a priority."

"Thanks to ThriveNYC, congregations and community organization across our city will share a common focus this weekend -- to end the stigma around mental illness. Faith-based and community groups are critical to this effort as they are often one of the first places that someone struggling with mental health, addiction, or other issues will turn. Thank you to ThriveNYC for the incredible work it is doing to educate the public about the many treatment options for mental illness, and bring mental health services and support to all New Yorkers," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan, District 6).

About ThriveNYC
The overarching aim of the new Mayoral Office of ThriveNYC is to ensure that every New Yorker who needs mental health support has access to it, where and when they need it. The Office addresses needs that have gone unmet by traditional services and pilots innovative strategies. This includes new services for historically underserved special populations, expanding the range of mental health support available to New Yorkers, and enhancing mental health equity across the city. The Office works with City agencies and strategic partners to implement Thrive’s programs, maximize their effectiveness and ensure sustainability.

For more information on ThriveNYC, visit nyc.gov/thrivenyc.

pressoffice@cityhall.nyc.gov

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