Public Advocate Responds To Federal Approval Of '9-8-8' Mental Heath Crisis Phone Line

November 22nd, 2021

Press Release

"The federal approval of a 988 number for suicide prevention and mental health crises is a welcome and potentially lifesaving measure. New York and the nation are experiencing a mental health crisis compounded – but not caused – by the pandemic, and easing access to support services is vital. At the same time, it is not intended as a comprehensive outlet for mental health emergencies, and it is not a replacement or substitute for a 3 digit number that dispatches rapid, non-police emergency response teams to respond to these crises, a tool that my office has repeatedly called for and pursued legislatively, and which the de Blasio administration has not supported.

“If the Mayor wants to celebrate federal action on this issue, he should embrace fundamental reforms on a city level, where he has prevented the very progress we have been pushing. I have appreciated this administration’s focus on mental health and wellness, as this issue is personal to me and so many New Yorkers, but the execution of that focus has often been ineffective or inadequate. As I’ve previously discussed, we need a robust approach to mental health crises that centers a healthcare approach, not a criminal one, in addition to broad wraparound services that help preempt and prevent emergencies. In his last weeks in office, the Mayor should focus on finally laying that foundation here in the city.”

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