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Chirlane McCray, the wife of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, has been a tireless advocate for expanding access to mental healthcare for some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers. She stood alongside her daughter Chiara de Blasio, who has, and continues to be open about her own struggles with depression and drug abuse.
McCray, who recently announced that the City of New York will be contributing millions of dollars to new Mental Health and Social Service Programs, penned an essay in which she talked about the importance of mental healthcare for African Americans.
Today, African Americans are 20 percent more likely than their white counterparts to report experiencing serious psychological distress. And yet we are 40 percent less likely to have received mental-health treatment or counseling in the past year.
Here’s what that means in real life: Millions of African Americans suffer from a mental-health condition and do not get the treatment they need to live a full and productive life.
We can do better. And there is no time to waste. Getting our loved ones to treatment and getting them there early can improve and transform their lives.
A first step is to work with our leaders in government to expand the network of evidence-based practices like peer counseling and support groups. We need more health care workers who understand our culture and can help us access services where we live. We need to raise awareness so that people realize that anxiety, depression, substance-use disorders and other mental-health ailments are common. And they are all treatable.