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In Support of #ThriveNYC, Sen. Parker and Staff Take Mental Health First Aid Course

The city's free Mental Health First Aid course trains New Yorkers how to recognize and address the early signs of mental illness and substance misuse.
Senator Parker, BK Reader
Senator Parker and his team participated in ThriveNYC’s Mental Health First Aid course. Photo courtesy Office of State Senator Kevin Parker.

In an effort to promote mental health and wellness, Senator Kevin Parker and his team participated in an eight-hour Mental Health First Aid course held by ThriveNYC at his Flatbush office on Saturday.

ThriveNYC, launched by First Lady Chirlane McCray in November 2015, is the city's roadmap to address mental health, substance misues and the stigma often associated with these issues.

Parker not only wanted to shed light on the importance of supporting one's own mental health needs, but also how New Yorkers can learn to support others on their journey to health and wellness.

"I applaud First Lady Chirlane McCray for launching this important initiative," said Parker. "Mental health is a growing issue in our community. It is important that my staff and I continuously work as a team to increase our knowledge and acquire new skills to better serve our constituents, as well as our friends and families."

According to city data, at least one in five adult New Yorkers is likely to experience a mental health disorder in any given year, and approximately 8 percent experience symptoms of depression each year.

Also children and teenagers are affected by the mental health crisis: 8 percent of NYC public high school students report attempting suicide, and 73,000 students report feeling sad or hopeless each month. 

City data further reveals that substance misuse has risen as one of the leading causes of premature death in every NYC neighborhood. Each year, 1,800 deaths and upwards of 70,000 emergency room visits among adults can be attributed to alcohol use. Unintentional drug overdose deaths outnumber both homicide and motor vehicle fatalities.

Thrive NYC tries to address these issues through a variety of programs and initiatives including the Mental Health First Aid courses. The program informs and trains New Yorkers how to help those around them that may knowingly or unknowingly suffer from mental health or substance misuse issues. 

During the workshop, Parker and his staff received direct training on how to provide initial help to anyone experiencing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis and substance abuse orders. Through team building activities combined with a presentation by a mental health expert, the team learned how to identify and address mental health issues, and how to properly refer others to the professional support they need to receive long-term help.

Parker hopes that other groups and organizations may take the course, as well.

"My staff and I enjoyed the course," said Parker. "And will encourage other organizations within our network to also take the course to gain insight on how they can support those around them who may be suffering from mental health issues."

To learn more about ThriveNYC and the Mental Health First Aid course, go here.