Our engagement with immigrant communities

When a 23-year-old immigrant called NYC Well, she expressed a sense of fear that she might lose her green card if she were found to be mentally ill. In response, a counselor provided a number of resources, including outpatient mental health clinics. The caller reported that after speaking with NYC Well, she felt calmer than she’d been in a very long time.
–Actual account of an NYC Well call

Every day, our resources are reaching the City’s immigrant communities, which include more than 3.1 million people. Through programs and services that span languages, age groups, and neighborhoods, the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health ensures that all New Yorkers, regardless of where they were born, have access to the mental health support they need.

Inclusive services for all New Yorkers

The Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health reaches immigrant communities where they are, in the language they speak. All our mental health services are inclusive of immigrant New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. Here are some highlights:

  • Children and young adults – The Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health partners with the Department of Education to ensure that all students have access to mental health services in their school or through referrals to services in their community
  • Families experiencing homelessness – The Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health supports over 50 bilingual clinical social workers in the shelter system for families with children, a key component of the onsite mental health care we support in over 100 family shelters and all runaway and homeless youth drop-in centers and residences in the city
  • Community-based support – Connections to Care establishes partnerships between community-based organizations, some of which are mission-driven to serve immigrant populations, and mental health providers
  • Older New Yorkers – Mental health services for older adults are available in multiple languages through 48 older adult centers across New York City
  • Workplaces – Over 42% of employers currently partnering with Thrive in your Workplace serve a multilingual audience

Serving immigrants with serious mental health needs

Due to unique challenges, foreign-born individuals are less likely to receive mental health treatment for serious mental illness. The Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health is committed to connecting immigrants in New York to treatment and support.

One way we do this is by partnering with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to support mobile treatment teams that provide intensive community-based care to those with serious needs. Mobile treatment team services are provided in English, Spanish, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese.

The Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health also partners with the NYPD to bring supportive victim advocates to precincts and police service areas (PSA) in the City. The Crime Victim Assistance Program has assisted over 165,000 New Yorkers who have been harmed by crime, violence, or abuse. The program’s supportive advocates are culturally and linguistically competent, and partner with immigrant-serving organizations like Sakhi for South Asian Women and Arab-American Family Support Center.

Mental Health First Aid

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Mental Health First Aid trainings were available to all New Yorkers in 9 different languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Haitian Creole, Arabic, Korean, Urdu and Bangla. These trainings cover mental illness risk factors and signs, how to talk to someone who may be in crisis, and where to go for further mental health services and support.

Nearly 30% of the individuals trained in Mental Health First Aid reported that they interact with New York’s immigrant communities daily, as of November 2019. Over 300 trainings have been provided in languages other than English.

Eliminating barriers to care through NYC WELL

NYC Well provides mental health and substance misuse support over the phone, by text, or online chat.

Services are available in 200+ languages and include: short-term crisis counseling, peer support, mobile crisis teams, and connection to ongoing mental health support. To meet individualized needs, NYC Well can also refer callers to community-based organizations that specialize in serving immigrant communities.

NYC Well is a safe, confidential, and compassionate resource available for all New Yorkers 24/7, regardless of immigration or insurance status. In 2020, NYC Well received 262,261 calls.