/ December 21, 2023

The Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health Makes Progress in Promoting Mental Health for All New Yorkers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2023
CONTACT: press@mentalhealth.nyc.gov, (212) 788-4254

The Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health Makes Progress in Promoting Mental Health for All New Yorkers


NEW YORK – The Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health (OCMH) announced concrete steps the office took throughout 2023 to ensure that more New Yorkers are getting the mental health support they need to live healthy and content lives. Building on the goals of Mayor Adams’ Care, Community, Action: A Mental Health Plan for NYC, OCMH has continued to work closely with partners inside and outside of government to create new initiatives and expand on existing services that address New York City’s mental health challenges. 

“Our communities have been telling us loudly and clearly that they need more access to responsive care.” said Eva Wong, Executive Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health. “And our office is collaborating with our partners and activating all parts of government to ensure this administration is delivering on those needs”. 

In 2023, OCMH’s collaborative work included: 

Launching a New Youth Mental Health Campaign for Youth Experiencing Homelessness 

OCMH worked in partnership with the New York City Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to identify the mental health needs of young people with lived experience of homelessness, and co-developed a campaign that lets youth experiencing homelessness know where they can find safe spaces to receive support, resources, and mental healthcare. The campaign, a part of the Opportunity Starts With a Home initiative, launched in December 2023 and promotes the City’s free mental health help line (988) and the DYCD Mental Health Hubs in DYCD Drop-In Centers, including the array of resources those centers offer. The campaign is currently running citywide on LinkNYC. 

Implementing Social and Emotional (SEL) Learning Workshops with Families Living in Shelter.  

OCMH, in partnership with DHS, OHEL Children’s Home and Family, and Adelphi University, is facilitating the implementation of SEL workshops for families in shelter with young children ages 0-6. A research component will assess outcomes associated with using an SEL resource called, “I Feel That Way and That’s Okay” that will be used with small groups of caregivers to increase parenting social emotional learning self-efficacy. This pilot is underway in 3 DHS shelter locations with plans to expand to other locations. 

Supporting Adaptation and Scaling of Non-Specialist Community Driven Mental Health Interventions (PM+) in Low Resources Communities 

The New School and George Washington University, in partnership with OCMH, recently launched RECOUP-NY. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, RECOUP-NY program trains staff in community-based organizations to deliver Problem Management Plus (PM+), an evidence based 5-session psychological intervention to reduce symptoms of distress, depression, and anxiety. Developed and shown to be effective by the World Health Organization, the PM+ intervention offers a unique approach to addressing issues of equity and supports the development of community based and informed mental health support. In task-sharing models of mental health support, people without a professional background or a formal education in mental health are taught the necessary skills to support members of their own community experiencing emotional distress. Community organization staff from the same neighborhoods as their clients often share culture and personal experiences making them valued trusted helpers on the front line of supporting community needs. To date, 35 staff members from community-based organizations have been trained and are now delivering the PM+ intervention. RECOUP-NY is actively recruiting additional community organizations interested in partnering on this initiative to make effective psychological support more accessible to all New Yorkers.

Creating New Mental Health Resource Guides for Asylum Seeker Families and Frontline Staff Who Serve Them 

In response to the need for mental healthcare and support for the growing number of asylum seekers in New York City, in March, OCMH convened a group of city agency leaders to identify gaps in services for this vulnerable population and work together to find solutions. The group identified a need for distributing information regarding how asylum seeker families and frontline staff who serve them can access free mental health resources. This led to OCMH working closely with agency partners to create mental health resource guides, which are available in English and Spanish. The resources have been distributed widely across networks. 

Expanding B-HEARD to More High Need Neighborhoods 

B-HEARD — the Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division is an interagency collaboration between the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) and NYC Health + Hospitals with oversight from OCMH. This pilot program partners jointly trained EMTs and Paramedics and mental health professionals to respond to 911 mental health calls that do not have violence or weapons as the primary concern.  

In 2023, B-HEARD expanded into parts of Queens for the first time, additional neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and expanded to cover the entire borough of the Bronx, making it the first fully covered borough. In the first six months of the year alone, the teams responded to over 5,000 911 calls. 


About the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health 

The Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health is committed to improving mental health outcomes for all New Yorkers, so that more people can get the mental health support they need to live healthy and content lives. We advance our goals by coordinating the development of citywide policies and strategies to fill critical gaps in mental healthcare.   

OCMH works with City agencies to reduce barriers to mental health care for marginalized communities. Our priorities are rooted in equity, racial justice, and cultural responsiveness. We adopt a community-centered and strength-based approach that recognizes diverse perspectives, lived experiences, resilience, and the unique needs of New Yorkers.