NEW YORK (TIP): ThriveNYC’s Geriatric Mental Health Initiative, a package of mental health services that will be offered at 15 senior centers this year and at an additional ten centers in 2017, was launched on December 7 by First Lady Chirlane McCray, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, and Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado.

Mental health clinicians will provide on-site therapy, as well as educational workshops, mental health screening, referrals, and engagement activities that help de-stigmatize mental illness. Through ThriveNYC, the Department for the Aging will also launch friendly visiting to homebound seniors to help prevent social isolation, which increases the risk of chronic health conditions, depression, anxiety and other serious health issues.

The service will be provided through trained volunteers working with coordinators at the case management agencies. The volunteers will seek to develop meaningful relationships with the individuals they visit and to engage them in activities like shopping, library visits, and local senior center visits. To enrich the service, volunteers and friendly visiting coordinators will be trained on mental health first-aid because social isolation can put seniors at risk for mental health problems. An important purpose of the visiting service will be to link clients identified by their visitors as needing mental health intervention to appropriate resources.