NYC Well: Making sure frontline mental health workers have support
Yan Mei Nie is a rising star on the NYC Well team. Hired in February 2019 as a counselor to respond to calls, texts, and chats to the City’s comprehensive mental health helpline, she was quickly promoted to Quality Improvement Specialist, right as the coronavirus pandemic began.
Part of a Quality Improvement Specialist’s role is to give feedback to NYC counselors so they can deliver the highest quality support to New Yorkers seeking help. For many people, this can be an uncomfortable role since it means critiquing a counselor’s work and offering suggestions for improvement. But it’s a role that Ms. Nie excels at. Her empathetic nature, and the fact that she started as a Counselor on the NYC Well team, means that her feedback is always well-received.
As calls to NYC Well increased during the pandemic, Ms. Nie became all the more supportive of her team. She understood that many members of the counseling team were experiencing their own mental health challenges in response to the pandemic, even as they responded to thousands of New Yorkers who were struggling.
So, she took it upon herself to improve the morale and wellbeing of staff. She became active in a wellness committee to address NYC Well counselors’ mental health needs. She also began searching for professional development opportunities that could help her colleagues address short-term and long-term challenges related to COVID-19. Ms. Nie knew that preparing counselors to handle the influx of COVID-19-related calls would help them reduce their stress and continue to provide a consistently high level of care to New Yorkers.
“Yan Mei Nie is extremely professional and really driven to provide a high level of service,” said Kelly Clarke, Program Director of NYC Well. “She shows up that way in every setting – in team meetings, and in the way she engages with management and colleagues. She always creates a nonjudgmental space.”
From Ms. Nie:
“What drew me to work in this field was the incredible opportunity to provide emotional support for people going through a crisis. I am proud to be a part of an organization that is strongly dedicated to making a positive impact on mental health.”
Community mental health program: NYC Well
NYC Well provides a single point of entry to the City’s mental health and substance misuse services via comprehensive 24/7/365 support over the phone, through text messaging, or through online chat. NYC Well provides robust crisis counseling, referrals to ongoing care, help with scheduling appointments, connection to mobile crisis services, peer support, and follow-up. NYC Well works to connect people to appropriate services regardless of insurance or immigration status. During the COVID-19 pandemic, NYC Well responded to an increased need. NYC Well answered 17% more calls in May 2020 than in May 2019, and more calls in June 2020 than in June 2019. There were more than 120,000 visits to the NYC Well website in April 2020 – up 400% from April 2019. Any New Yorker in need – or who knows someone in need – can call 888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355), text WELL to 65173, or chat online at nyc.gov/nycwell. Learn more about the program and its impact here.