Madness of America –  

Dec. 18, 2020 – New York City struggled and then regained its footing after becoming the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. Like the rest of the United States, it is again experiencing a spike in the number of new cases, increased hospitalizations, and deaths. The first vaccines have now gone into the arms of American essential care workers, but the pandemic will continue to inflict disease and death on thousands more citizens over the next few months. New York City is a bellwether for the United States as social isolation and economic despair threatens lives and livelihoods amidst the already half a million unemployed in New York City and millions across the United States. Nearly a year of physical restrictions between friends and family have increased anxiety and depression, as fallout of this public and mental health crisis.

The Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, and his wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray recently welcomed the Morning Joe Field Team onto the porch of their home at the historic Gracie Mansion. Our discussion focused on the devastation the past year has wrought on those with mental illnesses and addiction issues. Just over five years before the first COVID-19 case was identified in New York City, Chirlane McCray spearheaded the launch of ThriveNYC. It was an unprecedented commitment by the City of New York to work towards a mental health system for all, regardless of means. At the foundation of the initiative is the acceptance and understanding that mental illness is pervasive, but treatable. “I think during the coronavirus, people have come to understand mental health challenges reach into every American family,” Mayor de Blasio said. “It is astounding, figures are that one in five Americans deal with some kind of mental health challenge. And when you think about something that pervasive, how is it that it is not front and center in our healthcare approach? People need a place to turn to. We need a hotline with trained counselors, 24-7, in multiple languages, where people get immediate help…The sad reality we have seen in the opioid crisis is people without any kind of guide in the wilderness, Thrive seeks to change, to give people a connection point.”

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