Bay Ridge group gets grant for mental health help
A Bay Ridge-based organization that runs educational programs for residents from the Middle East has been named as one of the recipients of a grant from the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and will now expand its mission to provide assistance to people facing mental health issues.
The Arab American Association of New York, located at 7111 Fifth Ave., is one of 14 organizations throughout the city to be awarded grants from the Mayor’s Fund, a nonprofit organization chaired by New York City first lady Chirlane McCray.
The grants, which were announced by McCray in Red Hook on March 11, are part of Connections to Care, an initiative she started in July of 2015 to address mental health issues in the city. Part of McCray’s goal is to bring services closer to the people who need them by empowering community-based organizations to provide programs at the grass roots level.
The Mayor’s Fund, in collaboration with the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity and the New York City Department of Health and Hygiene, will distribute $30 million among the 14 organizations.
The Arab American Association of New York, headed by Executive Director Linda Sarsour, will work in partnership with NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers on the initiative.
NYU and the association will also be working together to provide mental health care to Arab-American families, according to Tomas Cruz, vice president of ambulatory behavioral health services at NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers. NYU Lutheran Medical Center, the hospital that runs NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers, operates nine centers throughout Brooklyn.
NYU Lutheran is partnering with another Connections to Care grant recipient, the Red Hook Initiative, to train staff members and identify young people between the ages 16 and 24 in that community who might benefit from counseling.
“As a community-based mental health provider serving South Brooklyn for the past 45 years, NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers knows the incredible successes that individuals can achieve when their mental health is addressed and cared for,” Cruz said in a statement. “We also know the barriers and challenges that individuals face in accessing these important services.”
Sarsour issued the following statement to the Brooklyn Eagle: “Thanks to the new Connections to Care program initiated by First Lady Chirlane McCray, the Arab American Association of New York will now be able to provide comprehensive mental health services to the Arab community in Bay Ridge for the first time in our history. This program could not have come at a better time – with high volumes of Yemeni and Syrian clients fleeing war-torn countries, an ongoing struggle against substance abuse among our youth, and violent rhetoric against Arabs and Muslims escalating across the country, we know that having a social worker on-site will save and improve lives. We are especially grateful to be partnering with NYU Lutheran on the contract, in order to ensure our new social worker and our staff are using best practices backed by an established institution who we trust, and who has been working with our community for decades. This funding will allow us to have a full-time, Arabic speaking social worker on-site, and will also provide comprehensive training to our entire staff on motivational interviewing, mental health first aid, and psycho-education.”
Connections to Care is a multi million-dollar public-private partnership that is aimed at expanding access to mental health services by integrating mental health support into social services programs that are already serving low-income New Yorkers. The program is also part of the federal Social Innovation Fund of the Corporation for National and Community Service.
As the Eagle previously reported, the Brooklyn organizations receiving the Mayor’s Fund grants, in addition to the Arab American Association and the Red Hook Initiative, are Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, CAMBA, CASES, Comunilife, Safe Horizon and The HOPE Program.
Speaking at the press conference, McCray said that the goal is to reach 40,000 New Yorkers over the next five years.
“That means 40,000 New Yorkers who will be able to talk about their issues and challenges in a place they trust, with people they trust,” McCray stated.
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