"WHAT IS YOUR SOUL TRYING TO TELL YOU? Not only do you have a soul, you are soul. You are the Light Within, shining through the prism known as the self.
The Big Apple, known as a hub for culture, business, and the arts, is steeped in history and is home to people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. The diverse population is made up of individuals from all social classes and all levels of mental health. With over 8 million residents1, New York City strives to meet the behavioral health needs of all of its citizens by constantly monitoring and improving its services every day.
Mental Health Statistics
Recent statistics from the New York City Department of Mental Health found that 6% of all children in the city had one mental health issue, with 26,000 receiving diagnoses of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and 15,000 being diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder or oppositional defiance disorder in 2009. In that same year, 67% of those children between the ages of 6 and 12 with mental health diagnoses were receiving care2.
The top two mental health issues facing adults in the city are substance abuse and depression. According to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), 16% of all adults and 14% of teens have alcohol misuse problems. Opioid and drug use is another highly treated condition among New Yorkers, with estimated prevalence ranging from 4.5% in adults to 7.5% in teens and young adults3. Nearly 8% of all NYC adults experience depression, although only one third of those with depression seek treatment, despite the best efforts of the city to educate and inform citizens about the symptoms and dangers of depression4.
Mental Health Programs
In recent years, the city has made great strides in mental health care. The introduction of Kendra's Law in 19995 set the stage for monumental changes in services and protection in mental health. After a man with serious mental illness pushed Kendra Webdale in front of a subway train, the city recognized the urgent need for assisted outpatient treatment (AOT). Kendra's Law requires that any NYC citizen with a history of violence and hospitalizations related to mental illness be monitored and overseen so that their psychological health needs can be met and serviced.
Additionally, the DOHMH has devised a new plan for the creation of Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE) throughout the state, with seven facilities earmarked for New York City6 and the surrounding boroughs. The RCEs will serve as networks for community-based education, prioritization, and planning, as well as staff recruitment and training and will strengthen social services at a community level.
Disaster Relief and Special Needs Services
New York City has been the home of several national and natural disasters in recent decades. To address the ongoing mental health needs of victims and survivors of these disasters, including the World Trade Center Disaster of 9/11, Tropical Storm Lee, Hurricane Irene, and Superstorm Sandy, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the DOHMH have implemented the New York Rising Communities Program7 for storm disaster relief, and government agencies continue to secure funding for ongoing mental health care needs resulting from the World Trade Center Disaster.
Crime has decreased drastically in the city in recent years, due in part to the tireless efforts of mental and social service organizations. Not only does NYC continue to grow and improve its mental health infrastructure each year, it never loses sight of those most in need, the homeless. The city offers a range of services and programs designed to offer educational training, shelter, food, and mental healthcare to the homeless population in order to increase overall quality of life for all citizens of the city.