NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In this installment of WCBS Conversation, WCBS 880 reporter Rich Lamb sits down with New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray.
It seems American society has disposed of many taboos over the years, but one of the tougher walls to tear down is the topic of mental health. People are weary to speak about it, but McCray is passionate about the topic and is on a crusade to remove the stigma associated with discussing it. She’s involved in a big push to accelerate and sharpen New York City’s response to those suffering from mental illness.
“I always talk about my parents who suffered from depression and our daughter who came to us just a couple of years ago and told us she’d been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and addiction,” McCray said of her personal connection to the issue. “I talk about how hard it was as parents to process all of this and to find help for her because it’s just not easy and we have resources and a network and it was so difficult.”
New York’s first lady said she learned a lot about mental health during the process and the journey to recovery. This sparked an important question: how do individuals who don’t have all those resources manage?
“I know if I was struggling with it that it must be so hard for other people,” she said.
Although people might be uncomfortable talking about it, McCray said 1 in 5 adults has a mental health condition in any given year.
“I think that most people just don’t understand it. It is invisible. It’s not as though someone is bleeding or has broken bones where it’s very evident what’s going on. It’s invisible. We have a lot of myths, a lot of misunderstanding about what it is and what it isn’t. And a lot of shame attached to it as well,” McCray said.
New York City will host the first ever Weekend of Faith for Mental Health on May 20, 21, and 22. One thousand places of worship will open their doors and devote services to mental health issues. The weekend represents the nation’s largest effort to engage faith leaders to address mental health.
“Clergy are New York City’s frontline workers and first responders for mental distress in all of its forms. Whether it is a widow with her grief turned to severe depression, a mother worrying about her daughter’s sudden change of personality or a husband overwhelmed by his wife’s anxiety, New Yorkers tend to consult their faith leaders,” McCray said.
McCray’s initiative consists of 54 different programs with nearly a billion dollars invested over the next four years.
“To have so many respected faith leaders speak openly to their congregations about a subject that has been taboo for so long will go a long way to lift the stigma around mental illness and substance abuse disorders,” she said.
For more information, check out the full interview above and visit New York City’s website.