Blog

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray Joins Catholic Charities in Push for Mental Health

Posted on May 21, 2018 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Speaks with Msgr. Sullivan at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Sun finally pushed out from the clouds Sunday as New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray, standing at the alter of St. Cathedral in New York City,  broached a subject that darkens the lives of most Americans: the challenge of mental health and addiction.

“This weekend is a historic push to address mental illness and addiction in our communities, without shame,” said Ms. McCray, who leads the City’s mental health and substance abuse efforts. “I am proud to stand with so many houses of worship and community leaders across the nation to find new ways to support one another through these shared challenges.”

Introduced at the mass by Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Ms. McCray marked her mental health initiative, Thrive Together: A Weekend for Mental Health, as over 2,000 fellow houses of worship and community groups joined in across the nation.

The issue is personal, Ms. McCray told worshippers.  Serious depression once engulfed both her parents and daughter. 

And the issue is pervasive:  One in five Americans experience a mental health challenge every year.  Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for individuals under the age of 50.  And nearly every extended family includes a relative struggling with mental health, addiction or alcoholism. 

Hunger, homelessness and poverty enflame these challenges. As a result, faith and community leaders often act as first responders.

This is why Ms. McCray asked Msgr. Sullivan to introduce her on Sunday.  It is also why she met at the rectory next door after mass for a one-on-one with representatives from three Catholic Charities administered and affiliated agencies.  They include Catholic Charities Beacon of Hope that provides housing and services for people with serious, persistent mental health illness; Create that offers treatment and recovery services and Astor Services for Children and Families that helps children with mental illness and their families.

“It is critically important that religious congregations and faith-based organizations raise awareness that mental illness is treatable, not a moral defect, and not to be stigmatized,” Msgr. Sullivan said.  “Prayer is necessary and good, but needs to be coupled with compassionate and quality professional help.”

Contact Catholic Charities NY for free and low-cost mental health and addiction prevention services if you or someone you know needs  help.