• Sarah Bacio

NYC Announces Historic Expansion of Mental Health Supports for All Schools

Original press release published by the NYC Office of the Mayor


In late April, Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter, and Speaker Corey Johnson announced an historic expansion in access to school-based mental health supports for school communities as they confront and heal the trauma caused by COVID-19. As part of this expansion, mental health supports are being integrated into Summer Rising, all schools will participate in social-emotional screening, and over 600 social workers, psychologists, and family support workers will be hired totaling over 6,000 mental health workers in our schools across the city. Additionally, mental health resources and training will be made available to parents through DOE’s Parent University and to early childhood educators.'


"Social-emotional screenings at every public school marks a critical expansion of mental health support for our young people,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “These screenings are a preventive measure, with a focus on maintaining wellness. Children will have an opportunity to talk about how they are feeling, how they’re getting along with friends and family, and talk about anything big or small they may be experiencing. These are conversations they should be able to have in the best of times. But after the year we’ve had, these conversations are more important than ever as they manage the grief, anxiety and trauma triggered by the pandemic.”


SUMMER RISING

Supporting the mental health and recovery of our students is ongoing over the course of the school year. For many students attending Summer Rising, this summer may be their first time back in school buildings. Under this initiative, every Summer Rising site will be staffed with social workers who will ease the transition of returning and provide students with individualized and group counseling. They will be crucial in ensuring students are getting the support they need over the course of the summer and as they get ready for in-person learning this fall.


UNIVERSAL SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL SCREENING

To ensure there is a successful return and recovery this fall, our educators must have the resources and supports necessary to address the social-emotional needs of all students. To that end, a social-emotional screening tool will be made available citywide to all children from infants/toddlers through grade 12. Social-emotional screening assists educators in better understanding the development of children, identifying common signs of trauma and distress in students, and helping better plan next steps in providing care. To coincide with the screening expansion, the DOE’s successful staff training initiative will expand to reach all 30,000 early childhood staff members. This means that every early childhood staff member will have access to professional development in trauma-informed practices.


HIRING 500 NEW SOCIAL WORKERS

When educators identify a young person who needs additional support, over 600 newly hired mental health professionals will be on hand to provide care. This fall, 500 new school-based social workers will be hired, inclusive of the 150 social workers announced in December. 60 borough-based social workers, 90 school psychologists and 30 family support workers will also be hired to provide direct care for students in the 270 most high need schools. This means that every school will have at least one full-time social worker or school-based mental health clinic - in addition to other pre-existing supports like Community School programs and resources across the city, such as NYC Health + Hospitals and ThriveNYC. In total, over 6,000 social workers, guidance counselors, and school psychologists will provide support to schools this fall, in addition to community-based resources.


ENGAGING PARENTS

Parents are educators’ strongest partners in ensuring the City’s young people are thriving and parents must have access to the same resources educators do. The expansion of Parent University will include resources that help families understand if their child may need social-emotional and mental health support. In addition to school-based supports, parents will have access to a parent hotline, where counselors will be trained on the school social-emotional screener and can provide families with community-based options for care.


“Since day one, we have prioritized access to mental health care for all students and fought to ensure our educators and families have the supports they need to confront the trauma caused by the pandemic,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter. “This historic investment underscores our commitment to address the social-emotional needs of our children by providing wraparound supports and services to meet them where they are. Our future is brighter when our young people are thriving.”


To read the full press release, CLICK HERE.