May 18, 2015

Press Release # 022-15
Monday, May 18, 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: (347) 396-4177
Christopher Miller/Veronica Lewin:

Health Department Offering Free Mental Health Services for Children and Teens in Areas Most Affected by Superstorm Sandy

One-third of children screened by this program have signs of post-traumatic stress and other mental health conditions

NYC CARES program is available at Coney Island Hospital, Staten Island Mental Health Society, and St. John’s Episcopal Hospital

The Health Department today launched an ad campaign to remind New Yorkers that free mental health services are available for children and adolescents living in the Rockaways, South Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Mental health evaluation and treatment will be provided at no cost through the NYC Child and Adolescent Resiliency Enhancement Services (NYC CARES) program. The NYC CARES program is available at Coney Island Hospital, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital for residents of the Rockaways and at the Staten Island Mental Health Society for Staten Island residents. The ads will run for two months in bus shelters in these Sandy-affected neighborhoods, as well as on the Staten Island Ferry and in the ferry terminals.

“Some New Yorkers in the areas hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy suffered great losses, including the loss of their homes, jobs and other significant resources,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “These losses can be especially devastating to children, though it’s not always easy to know if your child is having difficulty coping. If you think your child may be having symptoms of post-traumatic stress after the storm, I urge you to reach out for free services today.”

“NYC is committed to getting mental health services to children and adolescents affected by Superstorm Sandy through the NYC CARES program,” said First Lady of NYC Chirlane McCray. “To seek help for symptoms of post-traumatic stress is a good first step to healing. We want to make sure our children get the continuing support they need.”

One-third of people impacted by a disaster have signs of post-traumatic stress more than two years after the event. Since April 2014, 35 percent of children screened by this Health Department program in Staten Island, the Rockaways and Coney Island showed possible symptoms of post-traumatic stress, anxiety and other mental health conditions.

“The devastation that was felt by families who were hit the hardest by Superstorm Sandy was especially difficult for the children who lost their homes and neighborhoods. It is essential that we work together to help them cope with this feeling of loss. Ensuring that these adolescents receive the services they need as early as possible can greatly help the post-traumatic stress they may be feeling,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen, chair of the City Council Committee on Mental Health.

Mental health treatment, including therapy, can reduce distressful symptoms and help children manage their emotional responses. At the Staten Island Mental Health Society and St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, NYC CARES services are available for children and adolescents ages 3-17. At Coney Island Hospital, services are available for New Yorkers ages 3-21. These free services include 10-12 sessions of an evidence-based therapeutic intervention that reduces many of the symptoms associated with post-disaster mental health concerns. The Health Department is able to provide NYC CARES at no cost to New Yorkers through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

If you know a child or adolescent who is feeling overwhelmed after Superstorm Sandy, call 311 to find out how to participate in NYC CARES. For more information about NYC CARES program, visit