Wednesday, 17 Apr 2024

ThriveNYC mental health center helped less than 1K over 2 years

Chirlane McCray’s ThriveNYC mental health initiative, in a damage-control road show, invited reporters Thursday to watch cops and clinicians working together in a model program to help the homeless and mentally ill.

But the $2 million “triage center” at the old Police Academy building on East 20th Street is only making a dent in the problem.

Just 885 individuals were helped by co-response teams of cops and clinicians over two-and-a-half years.

By comparison, the NYPD received nearly 180,000 calls to aid people in mental distress in 2018, up from 145,000 in 2015.

Thrive officials still claimed they were making a difference.

“It is about acting early,” Thrive director Susan Herman said, explaining the triage center.

“It’s not a 911 response. It’s a proactive intervention to try and avert crises.”

Advocates have called on Thrive to send social workers with cops on all 911 calls involving mental health issues.

But Herman said, “we’re not at that point yet.”

NYPD Deputy Chief Terri Tobin said the triage center has helped decrease the number of contacts between clients and the police by half, based on a random sampling of 100 people.

The center does not track what happens to all its clients.

One of the center’s clients, a man named Matthew who lives in a homeless shelter, told reporters about his experience.

“It was different. You know usually, my experience with police was me being incarcerated. They were helping me not as a criminal or a violent black man but as a person who needed help,” Matthew said.

Herman predicted that the program would continue to serve more people since it’s grown from 12 staffers to 60 in October 2018.

She conceded her staff hasn’t done a good job in explaining the $250 million-a-year Thrive initiative run by Chirlane McCray, the mayor’s wife.

“I think we need to do a better job of communicating what we’re doing,” Herman admitted.

McCray, who launched Thrive in November 2015, is scheduled to testify about the program at the City Council next week.

Critics, including city Comptroller Scott Stringer, have questioned its effectiveness and transparency.

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