/ July 17, 2019

Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC announces first major changes since becoming mayoral office

Following months of planning, ThriveNYC adds 85 social workers to schools, announces redesign of Mental Health Service Corps program

CONTACT: press@thrive.nyc.gov 

NEW YORK–– The de Blasio Administration announced today two significant programmatic changes taking place through the Office of ThriveNYC. The Office will fund 85 social workers for schools in Fiscal Year 2020, bringing to 200 the total number of social workers the Administration is adding to schools in the next fiscal year. ThriveNYC also announced a redesign of its mental health training program, the Mental Health Service Corps, which will partner with NYC Health + Hospitals to streamline the program’s operational efficiency starting in 2020. In restructuring the program, the City will save $20 million starting in FY20, $11 million of which will be reinvested into the social worker program.

“The Office of ThriveNYC seeks to address mental health issues for all New Yorkers, and today’s announcement shows Thrive’s commitment to transforming and strengthening its programs to best serve all of our communities,” said Mayor de Blasio. “These changes will help us reach New Yorkers wherever they are, from our schools to our public hospitals.”

“ThriveNYC’s goal is to ensure that every New Yorker who needs mental health support has access to it,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Redesigning the Mental Health Service Corps and adding social workers to schools in need will increase the effectiveness of current services and go even further to reach New Yorkers where they are, ensuring that people have access to services in familiar settings and often in their primary language.”

“ThriveNYC is not only committed to innovation, but also to strengthening our approach as we learn. The important investments announced today will bring new clinicians to high-need schools and communities, putting New York City on a path to even greater success,” said Susan Herman, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director, Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC.

In School Year 2019-2020, the Department of Education (DOE) will add 85 licensed social workers to provide direct clinical mental health services to students and schools at times of crisis from the borough level. Hiring for the positions is expected to begin this summer.

Beginning on January 1, 2020, NYC Health + Hospitals will oversee all components of the redesigned Mental Health Service Corps, an innovative treatment and training program that builds a diverse, multi-lingual mental health workforce and integrates mental health into routine medical care. Under the renovated program, NYC Health + Hospitals will supervise the early-career mental health clinicians participating in the program and will manage their placement in behavioral health settings, as well as medical settings, where mental health services have not been traditionally provided. This groundbreaking program was launched in 2016 and will continue in its current form until December 31, 2019. It is currently managed by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and operated by the City University of New York (CUNY).

In the first three years of operation, the Mental Health Service Corps provided clinical services to over 62,800 individuals at sites serving high-need neighborhoods – 76 percent of which are in federally designated mental healthcare shortage areas – and helped participating early-career mental health clinicians earn over 300,000 hours toward their clinical licensure.

For several months, the City has been carefully considering how to improve the MHSC and has determined that moving the program to H+H will enhance the program’s most promising elements.

Moving the Mental Health Service Corps to Health + Hospitals will consolidate all aspects of program management into one entity, enhancing efficiency and resulting in a more streamlined and cost-effective program model. The annual budget for the program will decrease from $38.5 million in Fiscal Year 2019 to $26 million in Fiscal Year 2020. Once the transition is complete, the annual budget in Fiscal Year 2021 will be $13 million. Additionally, the redesigned program will be smaller in scale, with 60 corps members instead of the current 250, to ensure the strongest possible program.

The redesigned program is an opportunity to enhance the most promising elements of the program, including:

  • Increased focus on supervision and training: To ensure the Mental Health Service Corps is a strong, competitive training program, the redesigned program will include a lower supervisor-to-Corps member ratio and add rotations so Corps members can develop an array of different skills over the course of the three-year program. This resource intensive training model builds on current system-wide efforts within Health + Hospitals.
  • Commitment to innovation: Health + Hospitals, because it operates a vast healthcare network that serves millions of New Yorkers, is uniquely positioned to integrate behavioral health into its range of medical services. As examples, Corps members may provide treatment as part of mobile teams, screening and substance use interventions in emergency departments, or psychotherapy for women with postpartum depression in pediatric care units. Health + Hospitals is committed to matching services to meet complex and multifaceted patient needs.
  • Dedication to high need communities: Health + Hospitals will conduct an in-depth needs assessment over the summer to determine sites for its program and will continue to focus on high need communities and historically underserved neighborhoods. The needs assessment will consider the prevalence of mental illness in various neighborhoods, the capacity and need of possible sites, and opportunities for innovation.

“ThriveNYC’s work across agencies maximizes the city’s capacity to provide mental health care,” said First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan. “These initiatives bring critical resources to our schools and our health care system and will help more New Yorkers get access to services they need.”

“The Mental Health Service Corps will now be woven into the future of NYC Health + Hospitals, playing a role in widening the safety net for millions of New Yorkers,” said Dr. Herminia Palacio, Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services.

“Schools must be safe havens for all students, and these 85 new social workers will serve students and foster safe and supportive school environments in every borough every day,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “ThriveNYC has been a strong partner in our schools, and we’re thrilled to be expanding our work together. This is an important step forward in meeting all children where they are, providing them with critical services, and connecting them to long-term support.”

“This cadre of highly skilled social workers will strengthen our efforts to integrate mental health care with physical care and our ability to provide comprehensive and unique behavioral health services to all New Yorkers,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, MD, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals.

“Mental Health Service Corps is an innovative approach to invest in the next generation of mental health clinicians,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Thank you to CUNY and to the Corps members for being valuable partners in this work. I look forward to seeing the next iteration of this program as it continues to address workforce shortages and help populations with the highest need.”

About the Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC:
The overarching aim of the new Mayoral Office of ThriveNYC is to ensure that every New Yorker who needs mental health support has access to it, where and when they need it. The Office addresses needs that have gone unmet by traditional services and pilots innovative strategies. This includes new services for historically underserved special populations, expanding the range of mental health support available to New Yorkers, and enhancing mental health equity across the city. The Office works with City agencies and strategic partners to implement Thrive’s programs, maximize their effectiveness and ensure sustainability.