City Expands Mental Health Services to Domestic Violence Survivors at Brooklyn and Queens Family Justice Centers

Feb 08, 2017

Result of partnership between First Lady Chirlane McCray’s ThriveNYC initiative, Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, the Chapman Perelman Foundation, NYC Health + Hospitals and Columbia University Medical Center

One-stop Centers provide comprehensive services to domestic violence victims and their children, regardless of income, language, immigration status, gender identity or sexual orientation

The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV), in collaboration with NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray’s ThriveNYC initiative, NYC Health + Hospitals (Health + Hospitals), the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), and sponsored by the Chapman Perelman Foundation, have expanded mental health services to the NYC Family Justice Centers (FJCs) in Brooklyn and Queens. This is an expansion of a 2014 innovative pilot program that brought on-site clinical psychiatric services to the FJC in the Bronx. The program provides psychiatric support to domestic violence survivors through psychiatric evaluations, psychopharmalogical treatment and psychotherapy, regardless of health insurance status.

Mental health services at the FJCs address a compelling need and a critical piece of trauma-informed care. One in five survivors experiences a new-onset mental health illness after experiencing intimate partner violence. However, obtaining mental health care is a need that has historically gone unmet for this population, as life-threatening risks and taking care of other basic needs such as seeking shelter take priority.

“When victims of intimate partner violence reach out for help, support from the City should be there for them. The Family Justice Centers provide aid onsite that is easy-to-navigate. Expanded mental health services will improve the well-being of clients and increase their ability to take advantage of employment, education and other opportunities. Mental health challenges affect every family and every community, but that is especially true for those who have suffered at the hands of their partners. One in five survivors experiences a new-onset mental health illness after intimate partner violence. Thanks to the partnership of Health + Hospitals, Columbia University, and the Chapman Perelman Foundation, we are expanding mental health services to survivors at our centers in Brooklyn and Queens,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, who spearheads the City’s mental health and substance misuse efforts.

“In every sense, the expansion of mental health care into Family Justice Centers embodies ThriveNYC’s commitment to expand access to mental health services and meet the special needs of New Yorkers who have experienced trauma. I am eager to work with the Office to Combat Domestic Violence and NYC Health + Hospitals to cluster mental health care with other critical services that families are already receiving at these Centers,” said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives who leads implementation of ThriveNYC.

“The intersection of mental health and domestic violence is an important subject that deserves our full attention. Through our 2014 pilot program, the Bronx Family Justice Center became the first in the world to offer mental health services, and we are proud that the same services can now be accessed in Brooklyn and Queens. Mental health must be considered in any plan for the long-term care of survivors, and New York City’s Family Justice Centers are offering treatment in a supportive environment where service providers act as a team to help survivors meet a diversity of goals that are more likely to achieve long-term stability after the abuse. None of this would have been possible without First Lady Chirlane McCray and the ThriveNYC initiative, the Chapman Perelman Foundation, NYC Health + Hospitals and Columbia University Medical Center. This partnership demonstrates how New York City comes together to protect its most vulnerable,” said Cecile Noel, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence.

“Victims of intimate partner abuse come to the Family Justice Centers in an especially vulnerable state, often suffering from post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression. Their needs are complex, including help securing legal guidance, finding a safe place to stay, and getting food for themselves and their families—which is why behavioral health service referrals have historically taken a back seat. Because their trauma truly warrants immediate attention—not delayed referrals—NYC Health + Hospitals embraces this exciting model of co-located care,” said Charles Barron, MD, Medical Director of Behavioral Health, NYC Health + Hospitals.

Each FJC is partnered with a NYC Health + Hospitals facility in close proximity to the FJC that will oversee, supervise and hire the staff to provide services to the program: NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln for the Bronx FJC, NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County for the Brooklyn FJC and NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens for the Queens FJC. Each FJC has an on-site, full-time psychotherapist and part-time psychiatrist. There is also a full-time administrator who sits off-site at the Health + Hospitals facility.

Expanding mental health care to all of the NYC Family Justice Centers is one of the 54 initiatives in First Lady Chirlane McCray’s ThriveNYC program and is coming to fruition in partnership with NYC Health + Hospitals and CUMC, with additional support from the Chapman Perelman Foundation. Soon every client receiving services at a Family Justice Center will be able to access mental health care at the same location where they are receiving legal assistance, case management and safety planning, economic empowerment services and services for their children.

The co-located model at the NYC Family Justice Centers is an ideal setting for accessing mental health care because survivors do not have to choose between those needs. Treatment is delivered in a supportive environment where service providers act as a team to help survivors meet a diversity of goals that are more likely to achieve long-term stability after the abuse. This mental health program would be able to accommodate 6,000 visits per year for 1,000 clients per year.

New Yorkers in every borough can access the City’s Family Justice Centers by simply walking in during business hours – from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday – or by calling 311.

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