Mayor Eric Adams announces mental health agenda


Thomas Good | wikimedia commons

Zena Mohamed

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Commissioner Ashwin Vasan announced a new mental health agenda in an attempt to alleviate the ongoing mental health crisis.

The “Care, Community, Action: A Mental Health Plan for New York City,” was launched on March 2. It will support New Yorkers with over $20 million in new commitments.

Adams outlined three urgent challenges that the agenda plans to tackle in the coming months. This included improving child and family mental health, addressing the drug overdose crisis and expanding serious mental illness support.

The COVID-19 pandemic left a strain on peoples’ lives and resulted in the rise of stress, anxiety, depression and a plethora of other mental health-related illnesses.

Though the human brain is not a visible body part, it is still crucial for the functioning of people’s everyday lives.

“When it comes to health, we can no longer ignore the brain and focus just on the body any longer; we must address the whole person, and the whole system,” Adams said.

A strategy outlined in the agenda is to provide early identification and prevention services in systems that are committed to improving the well-being of children and youth. A telehealth program for New York City high school-aged teenagers will serve as an entry point for additional care.

“Mental health issues among young people are often overlooked, and the city’s proactive approach to addressing this problem is both timely and essential,” New York City Councilmember Farah Louis said.

The city hopes to increase awareness and break down stigmas around mental health, which is why investment will go towards training parents and caregivers on how to support and improve the lives of youth.

Additional strategies include marking potential social media harms that may contribute to the rise of mental health issues. Adams says it is crucial to ensure that online access is safe and does not contain media that has the power to induce negative emotions among the youth.

As the overdose crisis continues to rise, Adams’ goal is to reduce overdose deaths by up to 15% by 2025.

It is noted that 2021 was the deadliest year ever recorded for overdose deaths in New York City. It does not end there, as racial and geographic disparities have significantly contributed to the upsurge in drug-related fatalities.

Adams and Vasan plan to tackle this issue by expanding citywide naloxone distribution, increasing overdose prevention services and improving the quality of life for under-resourced communities. Furthermore, the agenda plans on investing in auxiliary housing options for people who use drugs and vocationally supporting those who are often denied employment in the workforce.

Serious mental illness can be defined as one or more mental, behavioral or emotional disorders that interfere with one’s everyday life, activity levels and functioning.

About 4% of New Yorkers live with an SMI diagnosis alongside thousands of others who have gone undiagnosed because of mental health stigmas or inaccessibility to necessary services and resources.

The program plans on addressing SMI by focusing on four particular foundations of care: healthcare, housing, community and crisis response. The objective is to double resources and connections for those suffering from SMI in the next four years.

The city will expand mobile treatment to serve an additional 800 people through Intensive Mobile Treatment and will add 8,000 units of supportive housing for those diagnosed with SMI.

“By investing in family and child mental health, addressing the overdose crisis, and supporting New Yorkers with serious mental illness, this plan focuses on where our need is greatest, going upstream to build a healthier city for all New Yorkers,” Adams said.