Community mental health: A permanent priority for City government

Susan HermanRead the Mayor’s Executive Order creating the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health 

In 2015, Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray announced a bold and historic new commitment to mental health for all. ThriveNYC represented the first time a large American city dedicated its own funding to supporting the mental health of people who had long been underserved.  

Fueled by that vision, New York City today provides more mental health services, in more places and in more ways, than ever before. More than a dozen city agencies and nearly 200 community-based organizations have made this possible. Because of their work through ThriveNYC and beyond, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from all communities, boroughs, and levels of need are getting care and support they once could not count on.  

Now is the time to build on this strong foundation and enshrine the City’s commitment to mental health for years to come. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated profound mental health needs and inequities, problems that will persist long after the last shot is given. As we work toward a recovery for all of us, we will need to prioritize mental health for all of us. We will need collaboration and coordination – with all the city agencies and community-based organizations that serve New Yorkers directly every day. We will need data and research to identify critical gaps in care, and innovative approaches to close them. We will need strategic policy guidance to maximize the potential of city government to promote mental health for all New Yorkers.   

This work is at the core of what it means to have a mayoral office dedicated to mental health, and it’s why Mayor de Blasio is signing an Executive Order to establish the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health. This step recognizes the long-term value of ThriveNYC’s work – and the vision behind it. The Office of Thrive will become the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health, beginning immediately. 

We know that mental health support can change, improve, and save people’s lives. It can strengthen our communities, prevent suffering, and reduce the use of jail, shelter, and emergency medical services. Mental health support can help the youngest New Yorkers build resilience and coping skills that will serve them their entire lives.  

We know all this because we’re seeing it happen right here in New York City. And now we’re committed to going even further to make sure every New Yorker has mental healthcare, whenever, wherever and however they need it. I thank all of the hundreds of partners and public servants for continuing on this journey with us. And I thank you – for doing whatever you can, in whatever way you can, to promote mental health for all New Yorkers. 

With gratitude, 

-Susan Herman, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director, Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health

Download Susan Herman’s biography