/ March 6, 2020

Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC announces Communities Thrive, bringing tele-mental health services to New Yorkers in need


NOTE: Given the current fiscal climate and public health emergency, the Communities Thrive demonstration project is currently paused. The City will issue a new timetable for this project in the coming months.  Additional information is available here.

CONTACT: press@thrive.nyc.gov, 212-346-6339 


New program will be implemented in partnership with organizations serving Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, and Latinx New Yorkers

A Request for Proposals issued today invites applications to participate in a two-year, $3.7 million demonstration project

New York – The Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC today announced a $3.7 million, two-year investment in a new and innovative tele-mental health initiative to address mental health needs of underserved New Yorkers. This new program, called Communities Thrive, will partner with organizations representing Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, and Latinx New Yorkers to develop community-driven strategies to meet these needs.

“By integrating tele-mental health support into the practices of community health providers and social service organizations New Yorkers already turn to for assistance, Communities Thrive will expand mental health services to more New Yorkers in need,” said Susan Herman, Director of the Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC.

Communities Thrive will be the first time the City makes tele-mental health available to community-based organizations serving Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, and Latinx New Yorkers. This new strategy builds on studies showing that tele-mental health can:

  • Expand access to mental healthcare by connecting people to support regardless of geography. In the past, tele-mental health has primarily been used to enhance access in rural settings (source) with healthcare shortages. There are currently 17 federally-designated mental health provider shortage areas in New York City.
  • Reduce stigma by allowing clients to access treatment where and when they feel comfortable, in privacy (source). There is a clear need for this, based on studies showing that, for example, stigma and judgment can prevent Black people from seeking treatment for their mental illnesses (source).
  • Promote linguistic access by providing services in multiple languages. Asian adults, for example, have reported difficulty accessing mental health services due to a number of systemic and linguistic barriers (source).
  • Match the quality of patient care and outcomes of in-person mental health services (source).

Collectively, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, and Latinx New Yorkers account for 65% of the City’s population. Members of these communities are at greater risk of mental health needs yet receive less mental health care than white New Yorkers (source). Communities Thrive will address critical barriers to mental health care they face, including neighborhoods with too few mental health providers, a shortage of providers trained to provide culturally or linguistically competent care, stigma, and lack of medical insurance.

Communities Thrive will add mental health support to organizations New Yorkers already rely on for other needs. Studies show that locating mental health support in culturally-responsive, community-based organizations and health care providers can mitigate barriers to care (source; source). By integrating tele-mental health into primary care practices and community-based organizations already serving Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, and Latinx New Yorkers, Communities Thrive will offer trusted organizations new resources to address the mental health needs of their clients.

The Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC plans to award four contracts as part of this demonstration project. These contracts will go to:

  • A single tele-mental health provider, selected to integrate services into all 30 community-based organizations and health care practices proposed by three Community Anchors.
  • Three Community Anchors, one serving Asian American and Pacific Islander New Yorkers, one serving Black New Yorkers, and one serving Latinx New Yorkers. Applicants will propose a sub-population particularly at risk of mental health issues and whose needs are unmet; a geographic area in which to serve this sub-population; and five community-based organizations and five primary care practices already serving this population into which the tele-mental health services can be embedded. Community Anchors will also oversee the development of a public awareness campaign to reduce stigma and encourage help-seeking behavior.

Among these three communities of color in New York City, the need for more effective mental health support is profound.

  • In 2017, 76% of US-born Asian American/Pacific Islander New Yorkers with depression reported that there was a time in the past 12 months when they needed treatment for a mental health problem but did not get it (source).
  • Nationally, Black adults are 10% more likely to report serious psychological distress than white adults (source).
  • Latinx New Yorkers display higher rates of depression (12%) than white New Yorkers (8%). However, white New Yorkers suffering from depression are more likely to engage in treatment for mental health problems (58%) than Latinx New Yorkers suffering from depression (39%) (source).

Communities Thrive aims to support three communities of color in shaping how and where mental health support is delivered and in exploring new ways to address longstanding barriers to care.

The complete Request for Proposals is available here. Proposals are due on April 27, 2020 at 2:00 pm EST. Questions regarding this project should be emailed to thrivenyc@cityhall.nyc.gov by March 18, 2020 at 2:00 pm EST.

About the Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC
The Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC (ThriveNYC) oversees a citywide commitment to promote mental health for all New Yorkers. ThriveNYC partners with 12 City agencies to implement over 30 innovative mental health programs that serve hundreds of New Yorkers every year. Thrive programs reach people with the highest need – those with serious mental illness, those affected by trauma, and those living in historically underserved neighborhoods. And Thrive programs break down barriers to care for all New Yorkers by providing free services in multiple languages, regardless of insurance or immigration status.  All of ThriveNYC’s work prioritizes equity and inclusion and builds the evidence base for innovative approaches.