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    • I’d remind people that like CPR, Mental Health First Aid prepares participants to interact with a person in crisis and connect the person with help. People who have been trained in MHFA do not take on the role of professionals — they do not diagnose or provide any counseling or therapy. Instead, the program offers concrete tools and answers key questions, like “what do I do?” and “where can someone find help?” The program is designed to prepare anyone - from clinicians to individuals who haven’t though a lot about mental health – to respond supportively and refer those in need to appropriate resources. 

      Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental illnesses, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common supports.  We routinely hear from trainees that they use the skills learned
      in MHFA often, both with strangers and people that are close to them. 

    • You specifically focus on strategic partnerships to advance mental health equity with the workplace mental health pilot you direct, Thrive in your Workplace (TWP). Can you tell us the inspiration for this program and why it’s so important to reach New Yorkers at work? 

    • ThriveNYC’s larger goal of reaching New Yorkers where they are means putting mental health front and center where they live, learn, and work. ThriveNYC’s strategic partnerships aim to to identify place-based approaches that can both increase the supply of and demand for mental health services. This includes a diverse set of partnerships spanning schools, libraries and non-profits, and as you mentioned, workplaces.  

      Specifically, Thrive in your Workplace engages New York City employers in an effort to increase access to mental health care and support. The workplace has long been a powerful driver for social change – from influencing civil rights, to women’s rights, to LGBTQ inclusiveness,
      among many other issues – and the dynamism of our local economy offers us an opportunity to leverage workplaces as on ramps to mental health care, and to ensure that NYC workers and organizations are equipped to meet their potential.

      In NYC, workers across industries spend more time at work than their counterparts in other cities, on average, not to mention that New Yorkers typically experience longer commuting times, which only adds to the burden of daily life.  While NYC workplaces are often at forefront of innovation, the fast pace of work can come at a cost; these workplace environments can be stressful in their own right, or even aggravate underlying mental health conditions. Workplace stressors affect all aspects of our lives as they relate to job security and financial stability, interpersonal and relational dynamics, workload and work/life balance, fit with values, among many others. 

      Alongside the daily stress faced by New Yorkers, the rise of mental health challenges also has a profound impact on the workplace. Poor mental health can be costly to both individuals and their employers. In NYC alone, depression and substance abuse are estimated to cost $14 billion in lost productivity. That, employee wellbeing aside, is a strong incentive for many employers. On top of it, we know that there is demand from employees for an increase focus on mental health: A recent national poll of U.S employees found that nine out of ten respondents agreed that employers have a responsibility to support mental health, with many respondents stating that employers can do more than they are currently doing in relation to mental health benefits and support at work. 

       There is a burgeoning body of research showing that mental health interventions delivered in the workplace are effective at improving mental health, while innovative partnerships and digital technologies can provide new opportunities to increase access to care and support employees to live emotionally healthy lives both in and outside of the workplace.

    • The Workplace Mental Health Innovation that TWP provides are unique recommendations for each employer or partner you work with. Is there a specific size that a business has to be in order to reach out to the Thrive In your Workplace Program? 

    • Our outreach tends to focus on employers in high stress industries that have a large presence in NYC – that includes social services and nonprofits, real estate and construction, legal and business services, media and tech, to name a few. In addition, we have found that employers with 50 or more employees tend have the infrastructure, like a dedicated HR team, needed to actually implement a workplace mental health innovation.  

      All that said, our goal is to transform the way employees can learn about mental health, receive support, or access mental health care so we will not turn any employer away, provided the organization has an office in the 5 boroughs.

    • What does the timeline look like for a partner in the Thrive In Your Workplace program (I.e. if a business reaches out in September, what would it look like for them to work hand-in-hand with the TWP team from a timing perspective to enact programming)?

    • The length of the engagement really depends on the employer and how quickly they choose to move through the assessment and implementation process, but typically spans 3-9 months. 

       Our program is centered on a research-driven Workplace Mental Health assessment that enables us to understand the employers’ priorities and context as they pertain to workplace mental health, and to then recommend workplace mental innovations from our evidence-informed toolkit. From there, employers may opt-in to free technical assistance (webinars and 1:1 consultation) to operationalize and measure new strategies.

      Our goal is to drive employers towards the adoption of at least 1 (at minimum) new workplace
      mental health policy or program so we are available to support employers for as long as it takes to do so. 

    • Outside of TWP’s program to help encourage mental health support in the workplace, if someone is on the fence about whether or not they should reach out to NYC Well, what would you say to encourage them to give it a try?

    • I would say that NYC Well is free and confidential, so there is no risk in reaching out.  NYC Well receives calls from all different types of people – from those who are struggling with daily stress to those who are in crisis – and their staff is well-equipped to respond to a range
      of needs and challenges. 

       In addition to providing 1:1 counseling, NYC Well can refer callers or texters to a mental health or other provider, so it’s a low-risk, rich resource at any New Yorkers’ fingertips. 

    • We are excited to roll out a series of Employer Engagement events this fall that will be designed to reflect and addresses the needs of specific industries. We see these events as opportunities for employers to learn about workplace mental health, connect and learn from their peers, and understand the range of possibilities for their organizations. Our hope is that employer participants will ultimately join the cadre of industry leaders already engaged with TWP.