This is a profoundly stressful time. New York is making sure there is help available.
An infectious illness outbreak such as the coronavirus can be stressful to you, your loved ones, and your friends. Not to mention the General Elections! It is natural to feel overwhelmed, sad, anxious, and afraid, or to experience other symptoms of distress, such as trouble sleeping. To reduce your stress and to manage the situation more resiliently, try to remain positive, remind yourself of your strengths, connect with friends and loved ones and use healthy coping skills.
Anxiety and Panic Attacks During COVID-19
While living through a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted Black, Latino, Indigenous, and low-income communities, New Yorkers may experience anxiety or panic attacks for the first time.
Long-standing impacts of racial injustice and inequity in our city, isolation along with loss of work, illness, death of loved ones and community members, and other stressors may also cause new or old symptoms of anxiety or panic to arise.
Experiences of anxiety and panic can look and feel different among individuals as well as across different racial, ethnic, cultural or regional groups. Some people may experience anxiety and describe mostly physical symptoms such as shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat, while others may describe mostly emotional reactions such as worry or fear. Some people may be hesitant to seek care from health care professionals and institutions that have historically discriminated against and oppressed communities of color through harmful practices and policies, some which still occur today. Some people may also be hesitant to seek care due to fears of becoming infected with COVID-19 by going to a health care setting. Read this to see how NYC Health Department recommendations to manage it.
Helping New Yorkers in Crisis
NYC Well is your connection to free, confidential mental health support. Speak to a counselor via phone, text, or chat and get access to mental health and substance use services, in more than 200 languages, 24/7/365.
NYC Well’s website offers a number of wellbeing and emotional support applications (apps) that can help you cope.
If your symptoms of stress become overwhelming, reach out for support and help. You can contact NYC Well, a confidential helpline for mental health and substance misuse services. Trained counselors can provide you with support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in over 200 languages. Services include:
- Crisis counseling
- Peer support
- Short-term counseling
- Mobile crisis teams
- Connection to ongoing mental health and substance misuse services
CALL: 1-888-NYC-Well (692-9355)
TEXT: “Well” to 65173
If your symptoms of stress become overwhelming, please reach out for support and help.
NYC Well, the City's confidential helpline for mental health and substance misuse services. Trained counselors can provide you with support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in over 200 languages. Click here; call: 1-888-NYC-Well (1-888-692-9355); or text: “Well” to 65173.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray announced this week that the City will add new mental health services to hundreds of schools in the neighborhoods hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two new programs will use existing resources to maximize mental health support for students and confront the trauma that has been caused by the public health crisis. This work is supported by the administration's Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity, which brings an equity-based approach to COVID-19 response and recovery efforts in hardest-hit communities.
"COVID-19 has taken a tremendous emotional toll on our city’s students,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "Now, our educators, parents, and school communities will not endure the trauma of the pandemic alone. To those who are suffering, your city sees you and we are here to help.”’
"Now, more than ever, we want all of our students to know that they are not alone, and there are compassionate, trained professionals ready to help them process anxiety, grief and trauma that may have intensified during the pandemic.” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. "Parents and educators in our communities hardest hit by COVID-19 have called out for this kind of direct support and we are responding.”
More specifically, the School Mental Health Consultant Program was converted to the School Mental Health Specialist Program. Launched in 2016, the Consultant Program served 46% of the City’s public schools. Licensed social workers worked with these schools to survey their existing mental health resources, build custom mental health plans, and, when needed, connect students to mental health support in the school system and to clinical services in their community. Currently staffed by mental health workers, the Consultant Program has delivered 6,993 trainings to 217,379 Department of Education (DOE) teachers and staff since 2016.
Under the new program, the current mental health workers will become Specialists and begin delivering trauma-informed group work, to students at 350 schools in the neighborhoods hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting in late October, each Specialist will serve up to five schools, and, in addition to direct services, will provide mental health education to caregivers and school staff to help them address students’ mental health needs and strengthen community and family ties.
The Specialist program, like the Consultant program, will be implemented by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), in partnership with DOE, with programmatic oversight from ThriveNYC. The $8.7 million Fiscal Year 2021 budget for the Consultant Program will be entirely converted to support the Specialist program, with the new direct service model requiring no additional costs. The Mayor’s Fund has raised $35,000 to cover the cost of training curriculum and material to transition the program. Data on the program’s reach and impact will be regularly published on ThriveNYC’s data dashboard
NYC Health + Hospitals (H+H)
Second, a first-ever formal partnership between NYC Health + Hospitals (H+H) and the City’s public schools will directly connect 26 schools in the neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19 to outpatient mental health clinics, where children and adolescents can receive ongoing therapy, psychiatric evaluation, medication management, and other clinical services. A designated staff person will be appointed in each school to coordinate directly with H+H, ensuring that referrals happen quickly and easily for students in need. Schools will also receive training to better understand when a referral to ongoing mental healthcare at H+H may help a student.
In the last six years, the City has significantly expanded onsite mental health services in schools, including adding clinics to over 200 high-need schools across the City. For some students with ongoing or acute mental health needs, schools may need to connect students to community-based providers. The new H+H initiative, Pathways to Care, closes this critical gap in care, expediting referrals and connection to community-based services for students in the neighborhoods that have experienced high levels of trauma and loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new partnership will use existing resources, without the need for a new budget. Pathways to Care will be implemented by H+H and DOE, with programmatic oversight from the Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC.
While schools are operating both in-person and virtually, students and their families will be able to access services through both of these new programs both onsite and via tele-mental health. The strategies announced are part of an ongoing, citywide effort to meet the mental health needs of children and young people in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.