Connections to Care

One in five adult New Yorkers is estimated to experience mental illness in a given year, and hundreds of thousands of these individuals are not connected to care. Without support, many struggle with long-term impacts to their overall well-being.

For five years, Connections to Care (C2C) has been working to change that dynamic by exploring whether equipping trusted staff at social service agencies with mental health knowledge and skills could create new ways for New Yorkers to access mental health services.

Launched in 2016 as a part of ThriveNYC, C2C is a $30 million public-private partnership led collaboratively by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. C2C is an innovative strategy that integrates mental health support into the work of community-based organizations (CBOs) that serve low-income New Yorkers and populations at-risk of having unmet mental health needs. In almost five years, the program has served more than 46,000 clients, trained more than 1,800 CBO staff members and connected nearly 3,700 clients with a mental health provider.

In November, the RAND Corporation released its final evaluation of C2C, showing that community-based organizations are valuable assets that can be deployed to meet local needs. The evaluation found that C2C had a positive effect on mental health and social services outcomes for some groups but not all. Specifically, the evaluation found that expecting parents and parents of young children who were engaged in C2C were three time less likely to use emergency services and inpatient care; C2C participants in youth development programs were three times more likely to seek outpatient care; and C2C participants in workforce development CBOs saw an increase in hours worked per week.

With the right support from C2C, CBOs have been able to incorporate mental health practices into their work and expand the skill sets of their staff to identify and address mental health needs and promote positive mental health.

“By partnering with community leaders and community organizations, we are able to provide services where people already are—where they live, work, worship, and study, and receive those services from people they trust,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “This approach is a game changer and one of the ways we can help New Yorkers on the path to wellness.”