New York City announces $1.7 million geriatric mental health expansion

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City on Monday announced a $1.7 million expansion of mental health services through the ThriveNYC Department for the Aging Geriatric Mental Health Initiative.

The funding, announced by first lady Chirlane McCray, will expand the program up to 25 additional senior centers, allowing the Department for the Aging to embed more licensed clinicians in centers across the city, help ensure seniors have access to mental health services, and help them battle issues ranging from depression and anxiety to highly disruptive behaviors.

Officials say that prior to ThriveNYC, there was no ongoing, dedicated mental health services widely available on-site at senior centers. In 2016, the city funded these services in 25 senior centers across each borough through ThriveNYC.

The announcement was made during a visit to the Council Center for Senior Citizens as part of the launch of #ThriveWorksHere, a series of tours highlighting the office's work in the city.

"Stigma and lack of resources keeps mental health in the shadows, preventing people from receiving the care they need and deserve," McCray said. "ThriveNYC's Geriatric Mental Health Initiative is changing that by putting clinicians in senior centers across the city, and the evidence proves our approach is working."

More than 1,700 seniors have been assessed by mental health clinicians as of January 2019, and nearly 700 have received mental health treatment.

ThriveNYC's Geriatric Mental Health services are available in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Polish, Russian, Spanish and Ukrainian. Seniors in need of mental health counseling are never turned away, regardless of their ability to pay.

The department is currently conducting an assessment to determine where the new Geriatric Mental Health sites will be placed. Factors being considered include the need for services and available space, as well as ensuring geographic, socioeconomic, and language needs of communities are met.

For more information, call 311 and ask for the "geriatric mental health" program. New Yorkers of all ages in need of mental health help can contact NYC Well by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL, texting "WELL" to 65173, or by visiting nyc.gov/nycwell. Free, confidential support is available any hour of the day in more than 200 languages.

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