The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for Mayor Bill de Blasio's initiatives, has announced a $30 million program to provide mental health services to low-income residents with little or no access to care.
A public-private partnership between the fund and the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Connections to Care initiative will tap existing community organizations currently serving low-income residents to integrate evidence-based mental health interventions into their programming. Funded by a five-year, $10 million Social Innovation Fund grant — which the Mayor's Fund and a number of service partners, including the Chapman Perelman and Benificus foundations, will match — the program will train preschool teachers, job placement specialists, and other workers to identify and help address mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
"Peer counseling is powerful," New York City first lady and Mayor's Fund chair Chirlane McCray told the New York Times. "We all have the potential to be healers." Since announcing last January that mental health would be a top priority for the de Blasio administration, McCray, who has dealt with depression and substance abuse in her own family, has held a listening tour to gather community members' thoughts about how to tackle the issue.
The Mayor's Fund and its partner agencies — the Center for Economic Opportunity and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene — will issue a request for proposals in September. Nonprofits are expected to team up with mental health providers to provide training for their employees. The city expects to work with a dozen or so nonprofits and start providing services in the spring.
The Corporation for National and Community Service has awarded the city $6 million for the first three years of the program, which will be eligible for $4 million in renewal grants over two years. "We will be looking at how many people had access," CNCS chief executive Wendy Spencer told the Times. "That will be the measure, quite frankly."