Roadmap focuses on expanding community-based preventive care, strengthening mental health workforce, confronting intersections with justice system, and improving public awareness and interagency coordination

City Hall, NY – Today, Speaker Adrienne Adams, Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction Committee Chair Linda Lee and Majority Leader Keith Powers unveiled the Council’s Mental Health Roadmap, a plan focused on addressing existing challenges in the City’s mental healthcare landscape and strengthening the infrastructure and investments in evidence-based solutions to improve mental health outcomes for New Yorkers. The Council’s roadmap is an ongoing effort of legislative and budgetary actions at the city, state and federal levels to help address New York City’s decades-in-the-making mental health crisis. It recognizes that meeting people’s individual needs earlier and more consistently can prevent them from entering the harmful cycles that exacerbate mental health conditions.

The Council’s Mental Health Roadmap outlines effective community-based models and addresses barriers to improved mental health in New York City, focusing on four key areas:

  • Expanding prevention and supportive services in communities;
  • Investing in the mental health workforce that has diminished because of inadequate support;
  • Confronting the harmful intersections between mental health and the criminal justice system to connect New Yorkers with appropriate care;
  • Bolstering public awareness of care resources and improved interagency coordination.

The complete Mental Health Roadmap is available here. The Council’s proposed legislation is available here and will be the subject of a May 4 hearing by the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction.

“The Council’s Mental Health Roadmap is a community-oriented approach to address the city’s ongoing mental health crisis, and it’s what New Yorkers deserve,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “For too long, the city has underinvested in our community-based mental health prevention and treatment infrastructure, over-relying on emergency responses once an individual has reached emotional crisis. The roadmap is an initial series of steps towards shifting the city to focus more on evidence-based solutions at the community level to improve outcomes and support for our critical mental health workforce. I thank Council Member Linda Lee for her leadership in producing the vision for the Mental Health Roadmap and bringing it to life. We look forward to continuing our work with service providers, advocates, and community and government stakeholders in pursuit of effective solutions that help more New Yorkers access the care they need for well-being.”

“New York has been amid a mental health crisis which was evident even before the pandemic, that greatly exacerbated the hardships experienced by residents all over the city. Today, the City Council is outlining its plan to address years of inequities across our mental health infrastructure to improve the quality of care and create better mental health outcomes for New Yorkers,” said Council Member Linda Lee, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health Disabilities and Addictions. “This roadmap will be a continuous effort to provide evidenced-based solutions that expand preventative and supportive care, invest in our mental health workforce which includes a wide network of New York City nonprofit and community-based organizations, and reduce the interactions between individuals experiencing mental health-related illness and the criminal justice system. New Yorkers must be aware of the resources our city has to offer in times of crisis, and I am confident that these legislative and budgetary efforts outlined in the Mental Health Roadmap will enhance the delivery of services and improve the various insufficiencies we have observed for years throughout our healthcare system. Thank you to Speaker Adrienne Adams, Majority Leader Keith Powers, and the entire Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addictions for working to lay the foundation to lift our City out of this crisis.”

“The City Council’s Mental Health Roadmap is a focused response to our mental health crisis,” said Majority Leader Keith Powers. “The Roadmap will provide critical preventive and support services to some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers and make a real difference in people’s lives.”

Highlights of legislative and budget actions at the city level from the Council’s Mental Health Roadmap include:

Expansion of Prevention and Supportive Services

  • Legislation, sponsored by Majority Leader Powers, that expands the number of Crisis Respite Centers throughout the five boroughs by at least two per borough, prioritizing areas with high need and open by appointment, walk-in, or referral.
  • Legislation, sponsored by Council Member Kevin Riley, that establishes the City’s commitment to expand “clubhouse”-style community centers for individuals with serious mental illness (SMI), like those already successfully operating.
  • Ensure that Local Law 35/2023, sponsored by Council Member Erik Bottcher – which requires mental health professionals to be available in the 30 largest families with children shelters to provide on-site or telehealth mental health service – is fully funded and implemented.
  • Advocating to include adequate funding in the city’s Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) budget for expanding school-based mental health services, including the additional investment of $28 million to strengthen existing school-based mental health clinics and establish additional sites across all five boroughs.
  • Advocating for the Administration to reevaluate its production goals in the NYC 15/15 supportive housing plan, towards building two-thirds as congregate units and only one-third as scatter-site units, while continuing to advocate for an additional $45 million to meet the funding need for the remaining supportive housing units.
  • Urge the Administration to baseline $5 million in funding for the Mental Health Continuum, a cross-agency partnership between the Department of Education (DOE), NYC Health + Hospitals (H+H), and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to provide mental health support to all students, as outlined in its FY24 Preliminary Budget Response.
  • Advocating to include adequate funding in the city’s FY24 budget through its $1.7 million Children Under Five Initiative that provides mental health services for children five years old and younger.
  • Advocating to include adequate funding in the city’s FY24 budget for the Mental Health Youth Council Initiative to provide flexible mental health services for youth programs run by community-based organizations.
  • Advocating to include adequate funding in the city’s FY24 budget for family support and educational programs that help families learn to navigate relationships with loved ones experiencing a mental health disorder, which would include funding peer-led and family support groups, as well as family therapy and counseling programs.
  • Develop a plan to provide Mental Health First Aid training for Council staff that teaches the skills to provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health problem or experiencing a crisis.

Investment in Mental Health Workforce

  • Advocating that the City’s FY24 budget includes adequate funding allocations to nonprofit and community-based organizations, with a focus on organizations that provide culturally competent and linguistically diverse mental health supports and services.
  • Funding and helping establish a Social Work Fellows Program at one or more City University of New York (CUNY) schools, which would subsidize the cost of mental health education, degrees, and licensing, particularly for students who commit to working in public interest mental health professions, which historically experience high turnover rates and staffing shortages.
  • Advocate for adequate funding and in contracts to achieve pay parity for workers across the mental health workforce within city government and the non-profit sector providing similar services.

Reduction of Criminal Justice System Interactions

  • Legislation, sponsored by Council Member Lee, to require the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health (OCMH) to report on implementation of the Mayor’s Involuntary Transport directive, released on November 29, 2022.
  • Advocating for the City’s FY24 budget to include adequate funding for street outreach teams that utilize the Center for the Justice Innovation’s “Community First” model currently operating in Times Square.
  • Advocating for the City’s FY24 budget to include adequate funding for the expansion of Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) Intensive Mobile Treatment teams, which provide intensive and continuous support and treatment to individuals within their communities where and when they need it.
  • Advocating for the City’s FY24 budget to include $12.8 million more to meet the funding need for 380 units of Justice Involved Supportive Housing targeted at the small group of people with the highest level of need, who cycle between jail, prison, hospitalization and shelter the most.
  • Advocating for the City to create educational and training support programs to increase attorneys and judges’ awareness about available mental health diversion options, facilitating their connections to the City’s mental health providers in support of coordinated care and responses for clients who may end up in the courts and justice system
  • Supporting the expansion of Support and Connection Centers, which offer short-term clinical and non-clinical services to people with mental health and substance use needs, and promotes community-based and person-centered engagement, stabilization and connection to services.
  • Holding an oversight hearing on the B-Heard program to address the significant challenges and concerns with the ways the program is currently being implemented.

Increase Public Awareness & Interagency Communication/Coordination

  • Consider legislation, sponsored by Council Member Bottcher, that requires the Administration to conduct public outreach, as well as educational and enrollment campaigns, on mental health services available through NYC Care.
  • Consider legislation, sponsored by Council Member Lee, that requires the creation of a user-friendly comprehensive data set of the locations of all outpatient mental health services in the city.

Each section of the Roadmap also includes budget investments and policy changes needed at the federal and state levels.

“New Yorkers are facing a mental health crisis, with far too many New Yorkers languishing on Rikers Island instead of receiving the mental health care they need,” said Jonatham McLean, CEO of Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES). “Speaker Adams and Chair Lee’s proposals will increase access to care and improve the wellbeing of many New Yorkers. We particularly support the efforts to increase mobile mental health treatment for New Yorkers living with serious mental illness. As one of the largest providers of mobile treatment services in NYC, we see this care transform lives everyday.”

“CCC applauds Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Council Member Linda Lee for crafting this thoughtful and comprehensive Mental Health Roadmap. We are particularly pleased with the attention paid to critical investments needed in community and school based clinics, family shelters, and the workforce,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. “Collectively, the priorities outlined in this Roadmap stand to considerably improve access to mental health services for young children, school students, youth and families across the five boroughs.”

“We appreciate the commitment Speaker Adams has made to reimagining our city’s mental health services and programs,” said Cal Hedigan, CEO of Community Access. “It is clear the Council understands that we need to invest our resources into non-carceral and non-coercive systems that support individuals’ mental health needs and center dignity and human rights. We are eager to work with the Council to advance preventive strategies that support New Yorkers where they are at and ensure that people have autonomy over their own care and recovery.”

“There is an urgent and critical need to redesign how New York City responds to mental health crisis calls so all health care calls are responded to with health care first without a police presence,” said Ray Shwartz, Member of Correct Crisis Intervention Today NYC Steering Committee. “Community based mobile crisis teams staffed by skilled peers and EMTs must be the first responders to mental health crisis calls. Continuing to develop a full range of community based mental health services and robust community education are essential to meet the acute need for services and reduce the need for crisis calls.”

“We applaud Speaker Adams, Chair Lee, and the City Council for their leadership on addressing critically important needs New Yorkers have for mental health supports and services,” said Katherine Brady-Stepien, CEO of the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies. “We celebrate the Council’s vision for the City’s mental health workforce, and strongly support the Council’s advocacy for achieving pay parity amongst our non-profit sector. The City’s essential child welfare workers, working in nonprofit agencies, work tirelessly to support children, youth and families, and their hard work must be recognized through equitable pay.  We are committed to working with our partners in the City Council towards securing the resources needed to build the best possible future for the children and families in New York City.”

“JCCA commends the New York City Council, Speaker Adams, and Council Member Lee on their mental health roadmap, particularly the investment in community-based, preventive behavioral health initiatives,” said Ronald E. Richter, Chief Executive Officer of JCCA. “It is imperative that these services are accessible to all New Yorkers before intervention is needed. Continued investments in these kinds of programs will help reduce the need for child welfare system involvement. JCCA looks forward to working with the City Council to implement services for children and families in need.”

“Thank you to NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Chair Linda Lee, and the members of the City Council Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction for their commitment to addressing the City’s mental health crisis,” said Matt Kudish, CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City (NAMI-NYC). “As budget season continues, we also urge the Council to make a financial investment in the family members and caregivers who play a critical role supporting loved ones with mental health conditions.”

“The mental health needs of all New Yorkers, and most critically those with mental health diagnoses who are of limited means, have been ignored for far too long,” said Ruth Lowenkron, Director of the Disability Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.  “The proposals of the City Council’s Mental Health Committee, in combination with a re-vamping of the City’s response to mental health crises to remove police and include those with lived mental health experience, will go a long way to meeting those needs.”

“As one of the largest providers of health care to New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, we know that mental illness and substance use disorder create profound barriers to stability and wellbeing,” said Eric Rosenbaum, President and CEO of Project Renewal. “We applaud the New York City Council’s push for greater investment in resources for our city’s mental health workforce.  And, as the innovator of the city’s first Support and Connection Center, we look forward to continuing to work with our partners in city government to expand this model so that more New Yorkers in crisis receive the stabilizing services and pathways to long term independence that they need.”

“The mental and behavioral health crisis in our city demands urgent attention. We appreciate the City Council and the Speaker for acknowledging this pressing issue,” said Pascale Leone, Executive Director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York. “However, we cannot overemphasize the need for immediate and significant investments in the human services workforce, intensive services for residents in supportive housing, and coordinated access to community-based treatment and resources, without which the situation will only deteriorate further. The lived experience of residents and the on-the-ground experience of our essential workforce must be taken into consideration as new policies and programs are crafted. We look forward to continuing our work with the Council to serve as a resource as lawmakers address these critical needs.”

“Mental health services are a critical component of thriving neighborhoods,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses. “Settlement houses have long-standing expertise in embedding mental health supports alongside community programming to be available, accessible, and most importantly, non-stigmatizing. United Neighborhood Houses is glad to see the City Council strive to support New Yorkers to receive the best mental health care possible, and we thank Speaker Adams and Council Member Lee for their leadership on the issue.”