Mayor touts progress in mental health care at ‘Cities Thrive’ conference

Mayor Bill de Blasio hugs his wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray after giving keynote speech at Cities Thrive conference. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

The city has helped 141,000 people with mental health issues this year through Thrive NYC, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who touted the program’s work at Monday’s “Cities Thrive” coalition conference at New York Law School.

De Blasio was the keynote speaker at the conference, where he emphasized developing new programs and outreach to help people who suffer from mental illness.

Mental health has been a cornerstone for the de Blasio administration, and particularly for his wife Chirlane McCray, who (as the city’s First Lady) has taken the lead role in developing ThriveNYC, which advocates for stronger, better funded and more integrated behavior health approaches in New York.

The mayor has suffered his own family setbacks with mental illness as his dad, a World War II veteran, suffered post traumatic stress disorder and ended up committing suicide. It was a time in America where those suffering mental illness had little help and no easily available assistance, he said.

Thrive NYC, de Blasio said, has resulted in better knowledge for the public to understand mental illness. He said it has also created a “single point of access and phone number for helping the public deal with mental illness as all can participate and nobody is ever turned away.”

Conference attendees listen to the mayor deliver his keynote speech at Cities Thrive. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

He said the program is also “sparking a conversation and movement to de-stigmatize mental health issues.”

He credited his wife for leading the effort, saying Thrive NYC  has “allowed us to talk in open society and has caused changes in society that allows people to seek out help.”

“Thrive changes the way we approach health care and challenges localities on how to deal with it,” de Blasio said. “Thrive’s existence is the recognition that anyone can be empowered with facts. There are so many people who didn’t know where to turn and didn’t know the solutions existed. Thrive is a real breakthrough.”

Thrive NYC was launched in 2015 and was consolidated this year in the new Mayor’s Office of Thrive NYC, focused on programmatic oversight, coordinated evaluation and research, strategic community and government and partner engagement. The program is in partnership with 12 city agencies and includes 30 innovative mental health program that serve thousands of New Yorkers.

Mayor de Blasio is welcomed to the conference. (Photo by Todd Maisel)