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New Mental Health Program for Black Women Led by New York City’s First Lady


Last month, a coalition called Sisters Thrive was launched by the First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray. It is a branch of her mental health program, ThriveNYC, and is a volunteer-based effort to promote a discourse regarding mental health knowledge within Black communities. The effort seeks to destigmatize substance abuse disorders and mental health within the communities through black women. “The goal of Sisters Thrive is to train ten thousand black New Yorkers in mental health first aid, and create a ripple effect of mental health awareness and empowerment within the black community” (Kim, 2017).

McCray stated to Amsterdam News, “Sisters Thrive taps into the tradition to promote wellness, destigmatize mental illness, and develop a more culturally competent mental health workforce” (AmNews Staff, 2017).
“We all know what to do if someone is bleeding, if somebody fractures a body part,” said McCray, according to The Fix, “But we don’t know what to do if someone has a panic attack or someone is suffering from depression. These are everyday skills that everyone should have” (Kim, 2017). These skills have the potential to be lifesaving, but are often overlooked by society in general.

According to ThriveNYC’s report, “at least one in five adult New Yorkers is likely to experience a mental health disorder in any given year” (“Understanding,” 2017). It continues, “Consequences of substance misuse are among the leading causes of premature death in every neighborhood in New York City. Each year, one thousand eight hundred deaths and upwards of seventy thousand emergency room visits among adults aged eighteen to sixty-four can be attributed to alcohol use.”

The report concludes, “it would be useful to capture not just neighborhood effects that pose threats to mental health, but also positive attributes that contribute to the resiliency of individuals and communities. Better data about both mental health and mental illness will help us make better decisions and smarter choices” ( “Understanding,” 2017). By promoting a dialogue regarding mental health within the communities, Sisters Thrive is helping to end stigma and give people back their voices.

The program is joining with several historically African American service organizations including The Links, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Jack and Jill of America, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.

AmNews Staff. (2017). First Lady Chirlane McCray launches new partnership to promote mental health and wellness in black communities. Retrieved from http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2017/dec/13/first-lady-chirlane-mccray-launches-new-partnershi/
Kim, V. (2017). NYC’s First Lady helms new mental health initiative for black women. Retrieved from https://www.thefix.com/nyc-s-first-lady-helms-new-mental-health-initiative-black-women
“Understanding New York City’s mental health challenge.” (2017). Retrieved from http://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/thrivenyc.page