NYAPRS Note: In yet another groundbreaking advance launched by NYC’s First Lady Chirlane McCray, the City has expanded its mental health hotline to 24 hours a day and included follow up services and the expertise of peer specialists.
'NYC Well' Is NYC's New 24/7 Mental Health Hotline
By Jen CHung Gothamist October 24, 2016
As part of its $305 million plan to "change the culture" around mental illness, NYC now has its own round-the-clock mental health hotline called NYC Well. First Lady Chirlane McCray said, "No matter where you live or how much money you make, you can reach out to NYC Well with a call, text or chat. If you are a spouse worrying that drugs or alcohol are taking over your partner’s life; a parent concerned about changes in your teenager’s behavior; so stressed that you can’t work or so sad and lonely, you struggle to leave your home, NYC Well is here for you. The service is free, confidential and accessible in more than 200 languages, 365 days of the year and 24/7. Just like our city, it never sleeps."
NYC Well is part of the Thrive NYC initiative, which is addressing and destigmatizing mental illness. The issue is personal for Mayor Bill de Blasio and his family—de Blasio's father was an alcoholic and committed suicide; daughter Chiara has struggled with addiction and depression.
A press release explained, "New Yorkers feeling symptoms of anxiety, depression, or addiction should first seek help from friends, family, or a health care professional. However, there are many who do not have this option or don’t know where to turn. For those who need help, NYC Well is one point of entry to the City’s array of behavioral health services. It is free, confidential and available to anyone regardless of the language they speak, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year long. 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. Phone counseling is available in English, Spanish, or Chinese, with translation available in more than 200 languages. Text and chat are available in English, Spanish and Chinese."
Services, which are an expansion of the previous crisis line LifeNet, will include:
- Crisis Counseling and Suicide Prevention: Trained counselors will provide crisis and suicide prevention counseling. If someone is in danger of hurting themselves or others, the phone operator helps by counseling them and connects them to appropriate services, including EMS and other crisis intervention services.
- Referral to Behavioral Health Services: NYC Well will help New Yorkers connect to a mental health provider who takes their insurance, is in a convenient location and who speaks their language. NYC Well counselors can even stay on the line to help make the first appointment.
- Mobile Crisis Teams: When a New Yorker or a loved one can’t or won’t help themselves, NYC Well will assess whether to send a team of mental health professionals to meet the person in their home so they can be connected to care.
- Follow-up Services: NYC Well will offer all users the option for extra support, like receiving reminders for first appointments, contact while waiting for an appointment and follow-ups to make help users stay connected to care. Follow-up services were not offered through LifeNet.
- Short-term Counseling: NYC Well will offer brief counseling via phone, text, or chat if needed to provide stabilizing support until an appointment can be scheduled. This is also a new service.
- Peer Support: Certified Peer Specialists will provide support, crisis diversion, information, and referrals. Talking to someone who has been trained to use his or her own life experiences with mental health and/or substance abuse can help those in need. Peer Specialists will provide appropriate, compassionate, and effective support, as well as crisis diversion. Peer support was not available through LifeNet.