Mayor de Blasio signs legislation to codify the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health in New York City Charter
Note: Intro. 2442-A establishing the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health was signed as Local Law 155 of 2021 and is available to view here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 22, 2021
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MAYOR DE BLASIO SIGNS LEGISLATION TO CODIFY THE MAYOR’S OFFICE OF COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH IN NEW YORK CITY CHARTER
NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed Intro. 2442-A, codifying the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health into the City Charter and establishing the Office as a permanent part of City government. Built on the strong foundation of ThriveNYC, the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health coordinates an all-government approach to mental health and works with city government agencies and over 200 community-based organizations to close gaps in mental health care through innovation. The signing of Intro. 2442-A follows an executive order establishing The Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health on May 5, 2021.“In New York City, we’ve established mental healthcare as a right for all,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health will ensure that New Yorkers can get support at every stage of life and every level of need for decades to come.”
“Today marks a significant milestone in our nearly eight year journey to make mental health and substance use services as accessible in our communities as physical health care, and to lessen the stigma. There is a solid path forward to continuing this work—lives will be transformed and lives will be saved because the Office of Community Mental Health has been signed into law,” said First Lady Of New York City Chirlane McCray. “The pandemic has heightened the need for even more programs, more education and training, and more integrated health care. With the OCMH, all New Yorkers—no matter their struggles or backgrounds—will continue to live in a city that prioritizes their mental well being and makes services accessible where they live. Thank you to the City Council members, faith leaders, community leaders and people inside and outside of government for all the time and hard work they have put into this effort.”
Intro. 2442-A charges the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health with the following powers and duties, all of which are currently performed by the Office:
- Reduce substance misuse and promote access to services for substance use disorder;
- Promote access to treatment for New Yorkers with mental health needs;
- Promote equity in access to treatment;
- Reduce any racial and ethnic disparity in reported mental health emergencies in the city;
- Reduce the incidence of mental health emergencies occurring in the city and address individual’s mental health needs before they become crises;
- Develop and support the implementation of strategies to close gaps in mental health care;
- Develop interagency policies and practices to promote mental health;
- Decrease any barriers to mental health care that may prevent access among groups identified as being under-served; and perform any other relevant duties as the mayor may assign.
- Ensure interagency coordination with DOHMH and any other City offices or agencies.
- Establish a Mental Health Council to advise the Office on issues relating to mental health and mental health care and facilitate coordination and cooperation among city agencies.
- Report annually to the Mayor and Speaker of the Council, and post to the Office’s website, a report identifying critical gaps in mental health care that are preventing New Yorkers with mental health needs from accessing and staying connected to care.
“For the first time, a high-level commitment to mental health and the office needed to fulfill it will be enshrined into our City’s law,” said Susan Herman, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health. “This decision is a fitting bookend to the vision first articulated by Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray in 2016—to take an all-government approach to ensure that all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable, have access to the mental health support they need. New York City is now delivering more mental health services, in more places and in more ways than ever before, and today’s milestone guarantees that even more New Yorkers will have access to care in years to come.”
“Intro 2442 is a first step in ensuring we close the gaps in Mental Health Care,” said Council Member Diana Ayala. “The creation of the Office of Community Mental Health will decrease barriers and streamline processes to promote mental health and wellbeing. Increasing collaboration between interagency offices will improve implementation and ensures that mental health care remains a vital priority in our communities.”
“The need for mental health has grown exponentially over the past few years as New Yorkers, particularly in Black and Brown communities, have experienced successive traumatic events resulting in stress, fear, anxiety, and personal losses. No one should ever have to navigate from Point A to Point B alone, and the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health must serve as a guide to all – without limitation. As a city, we must prioritize equitable mental health care and regularly assess our collective approach to help overcome existing barriers while expanding access to culturally competent mental health providers and resources in every neighborhood. The enactment of Intro 2442 is a critical step forward to ensuring stability, continuity, and life-saving support for New Yorkers, whenever and wherever needed,” said Council Member Farah N. Louis, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addictions.
“The past two years have shown that without adequate mental health assistance, individuals who need our support most can slip through the cracks – especially during times of crisis,” said US Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). “Today’s decision to codify the Office of Community Mental Health ensures that our most vulnerable communities, especially our lower-income communities and communities of color, have access to the life-saving mental health services they need. I commend Mayor de Blasio and First Lady McCray for their steadfast leadership and unwavering commitment to this vision and look forward to witnessing the positive impact the permanence of this crucial office will have on our City, our neighbors, and throughout our communities.”
“For too long, the mental health of our people has been neglected due to a lack of understanding and accessible resources, and we have to do everything in our power to transcend obstacles that stand between our communities and the support they need,” said US Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16). “The Office of Community Mental Health is a critical piece in our mission to increase access and equity to these resources, and will help us to address social stigmas and barriers that make accessing mental health support more difficult. It is our responsibility to identify and address critical treatment gaps and needs through holistic, wrap-around services that empower our neighbors of all ages to live healthy lives. I look forward to the continued success of this office and will work to ensure the mental health needs of our communities are addressed at every level of government.”
“The confirmation of the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health as a permanent part of City government is a landmark moment in the annals of global mental health which will ensure the sustaining and consolidation of ThriveNYC, the visionary initiative which blends committed political leadership with community engagement to promote and protect the mental health of all those who call NYC their home,” said Dr. Vikram Patel, MBBS, PhD, Harvard Medical School, and Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health Science Advisory Group.
“This is a much needed step in the history of our beloved city that recognizes the importance of establishing and prioritizing mental health and wellbeing,” said Dr. Lena Green, Executive Director of The HOPE Center. “I have firsthand experience of the toll that mental health and addiction challenges can take on individuals, families, and communities. I am incredibly pleased the Mayor has signed legislation that ensures NYC is addressing the mental health crisis with a permanent solution.”
“Mental Health America applauds Mayor de Blasio and First Lady McCray for their longstanding and rigorous commitment to the mental health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers,” said Schroeder Stribling, President and CEO of Mental Health America. “The establishment of a permanent Office of Community Mental Health ensures the city’s citizens that their mental health needs will remain a priority on into the future. As our nation continues to struggle with the mental health effects of the pandemic, we need bold action to ensure that everyone has equitable opportunities for help and recovery. We are grateful to the Mayor and the First Lady for leading the way.”
“Establishing the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health as a permanent part of the City Charter ensures the mental and emotional health needs of New Yorkers will remain a priority,” said Kimberly Williams, President & CEO of Vibrant Emotional Health. “This Office will help every New Yorker have equitable access to quality behavioral health care, while also reducing the stigma of reaching out for help. This is a good day to be a New Yorker.”
“The van Ameringen Foundation applauds the Mayor and especially the First Lady for formalizing the Office of Community Mental Health, said Hugh Hogan, Executive Director of the van Ameringen Foundation. “We hope the incoming mayor will work with great urgency to guarantee that the goals of the office are reached through more innovative outreach in New York City’s communities and more robust funding of those efforts imagined by this office’s creation. We further hope the mayor’s vision of an active Office of Community Mental Health leading a robust community-based system of mental health care that delivers innovative care for all New Yorkers is realized in the immediate future.”
“We applaud the decision to make the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health permanent, said Chuck Ingoglia, President and CEO of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. “The pandemic has created overwhelming demand for mental health and substance use treatment among New Yorkers. That demand won’t go away anytime soon, and we won’t fully understand the long-term effect of the pandemic on our mental wellbeing for years to come. But making the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health permanent will ensure New Yorkers have access to life-saving resources today and long after the pandemic ends.”
“By making permanent the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health, New York City is at the leading edge of the administration of mental health and substance use services. This move recognizes the complexity of these conditions and the critical need for a comprehensive, all-government approach,” said Arthur C. Evans, Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association. “New York City’s approach to mental health and substance use conditions will pay dividends to its citizens for many years to come.”
“Safe Horizon is delighted that the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health will continue to serve as a key resource for New Yorkers in the coming years,” said Liz Roberts, CEO, Safe Horizon. “The pandemic has highlighted just how critical it is that all New Yorkers have access to mental health support when they need it, especially following a traumatic event. This decision prioritizes the well-being of New York City residents and reinforces the City’s commitment to eliminating gaps in access to mental health care.”
“The Child Center’s early childhood mental health team has helped more than a thousand families raise their children in a safe and nurturing environment, and ThriveNYC’s support made this possible,” said Traci Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer of The Child Center of NY. “We are thrilled that the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health is now a permanent part of City government, and we look forward to a long and lasting partnership that will decrease the stigma around mental health, increase access and equity in treatment, allow innovative ideas to grow, and help the children in our care thrive emotionally, physically, and academically.”
“I am proud to partner with the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health to promote mental health for our communities of faith,” said Reverend Dr. Willard Ashley, President & CEO of Dr. Willard Ashley, Sr. LLC and Beyond the Protest. “Now, with the office holding a permanent place in our city’s government, this important collaboration to support mental health for all will continue for years to come.”
“Fountain House is pleased that the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health is now a permanent part of the fabric of our city government. We are seeing the intersections of our mental and physical well-being in real time during the pandemic, which has taken an enormous toll on mental health throughout the city and country. Centering mental health and public health in New York City in its own office will bring together sectors that represent both upstream drivers and downstream solutions to our mental health needs and current crisis. We look forward to working with the mental health and public health leaders of the city and this office to transform our city’s mental health system, centering it around community, and addressing the intersecting crisis of mental health and the coronavirus pandemic,” said Mary Crowley, Chief External Affairs Officer, Fountain House.
“As a leader in the faith community I can say firsthand how important the trauma and grief workshops offered by the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health were to leaders and congregants in the faith community broadly defined. It is clear that outside (secular) resources are needed to address the myriad of pre and post COVID-19 issues. I am quoted around the city for offering this line to the faith community, ‘What you pray for your tax dollars probably already paid for,’” said Rev. Dr. Alfonso Wyatt.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the need for mental health services—including among children and adolescents, veterans, frontline workers, and hungry families—and those needs will persist even after the pandemic wanes, said David Sandman, Ph.D., President and CEO of the New York State Health Foundation. “Too many New Yorkers report lacking access to mental health care. Establishing a permanent Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health will help facilitate a coordinated, focused approach to mental health services and increase access to needed care.”