New Yorkers will now have 24-hour access to an improved mental health hotline called NYC Well. First Lady Chirlane McCray announced the new service in Queens on Monday. The hotline is a part of the ThriveNYC initiative that aims to address mental illness and make treatment more accessible.
The new hotline will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for those in need. NYC Well is available by phone call, text message or online chat. Over-the-phone and text message counseling is offered in English, Spanish and Chinese with translation available for over 200 languages.
NYC Well is entirely free for users who choose to use the service. Callers can receive help with crisis counseling and suicide prevention. Staffers also have the ability to dispatch a mobile crisis intervention team to a home if it is necessary. The new services come with a cost. The program itself will cost the city $5.5 million during its first year and $4.5 million each year that follows.
The city’s previous crisis line, LifeNet, did not have many of the new services that NYC Well offers. Follow-up services are now available, which includes reminders for first appointments and helping users stay connected to care. Short-term counseling is a new feature that will provide brief counseling support until an appointment can be scheduled. Peer support is available, which consists of certified specialists who provide crisis diversion, information and referrals based on their own life experiences with mental illness.
McCray and her husband, Mayor Bill de Blasio, are personal advocates for mental health awareness. The couple’s daughter, Chiara de Blasio, 22, has suffered from depression and addiction. McCray said in a statement:
“If you or someone you care about struggles with mental illness or substance misuse, you shouldn’t have to struggle to get help. With NYC Well, support is as close as your phone or computer. No matter where you live or how much money you make, you can reach out to NYC Well with a call, text or chat.”
Online chat services are available on NYC Well’s website. The hotline can be reached by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL or texting “WELL” to 65173.
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