Who We Are


For almost 40 years, NAMI-NYC has provided people with the information and skills they need to advocate for better mental health services and a more responsive mental health system.

It is our belief that including the perspective of the family AND the person living with mental illness is crucial to ensuring quality services, improving outcomes, and enhancing recovery. Through the advocacy efforts of our members, we work to persuade providers, government agencies, and legislative representatives, of the importance of this voice as they make funding decisions regarding programs and services supporting individuals and families living with mental illnesses.

Read about NAMI-New York State’s 2019 initiatives.

Want to get involved with NAMI-NYC advocacy? Take NAMI Smarts workshop training!


The city administration has implemented Crisis Intervention Training for the New York City Police Department and the Department of Corrections’ officers.

Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) was developed in 1989 to train police officers to deal more effectively with people who are experiencing an emotional disturbance. Today there are more than 2,700 localities around the country that have implemented the program. Research has shown CIT improves outcomes for people in emotional distress and for the police by decreasing injuries and fatalities.

We know that CIT cannot be effective without the program being integrated into the community mental health system. The City had plans to open two drop-off centers where NYPD officers could bring people who are emotionally distressed and where they could stay for up to 72 hours and get connected to community health resources. Unfortunately, the City has not been able to identify locations for the two drop-off centers yet.

Finally, we urge the City to evaluate the CIT training program to demonstrate program effectiveness and to begin evaluating CIT implementation in the community to insure that the program is reaching its goal of reducing the number of people with mental illness from entering the criminal justice system and increasing the safety of NYPD officers.

Parity Implementation

All coverage sold on the Exchange must provide insurance benefits that offer mental health coverage on par with physical health coverage. If employer-based insurance plans offer mental health coverage, those benefits must be on par with physical health coverage. The Workplace Mental Health Summit will continue to focus on improving access to services.  

The federal parity law, the Affordable Care Act, and Timothy’s Law, which is New York State’s parity law,  were designed to improve access to quality mental health treatment when needed. Despite these two laws, access to quality mental health services remains challenging for several reasons, including inadequate provider networks, and unfair use of managed care mechanisms to control costs, such as prior authorization and utilization review. NAMI-NYC will continue to advocate to help ensure that the intent of these laws is realized and will use the Workplace Mental Health Summits and other venues to advocate for quality care.

Raise the Age

The New York State Legislature must pass a law raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18.

New York State and North Carolina are the only states in the country that can prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, many of them for minor crimes. Research has shown that brain development is not fully formed until the age of 25, and that interventions can be highly successful to help children change negative or delinquent behavior. The Raise the Age campaign involves numerous stakeholders, including family support mental health programs. All campaign stakeholders support raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 for children in New York, which will improve outcomes for children and enhance public safety.

Family Support

Family support services should be part of routine care for the families of individuals with serious mental illness.

A growing body of research demonstrates that families actually play a critical role in mental health recovery and wellness. Unfortunately, while families are included as a matter of course in other health care issues, they are routinely excluded from the care paradigm when a loved one has a behavioral health issue. Key stakeholders, including doctors, and policy makers often leave families out of the behavioral health equation. It is critically important that NAMI-NYC advocates for the inclusion of family in care at this time, as New York State’s behavioral health system is undergoing an unprecedented transformation.

We are also requesting that the American Psychiatric Association develop and promote a policy that encourages including family support as part of routine care and that residency training programs are aware of the importance of families in the recovery process.

System Transformation

NAMI-NYC will monitor the impact of mental health system transformation for individuals and families to determine if individuals are receiving integrated, coordinated and quality health care. 

The mental health system is going through unprecedented transformation as it moves from fee-for-service to a managed care environment. Additionally, the state is providing significant funding to support new services in the community to reduce hospitalizations and improve outcomes.  To ensure that NAMI-NYC services remain relevant in the new environment, we are working to develop partnerships with large organizations to include NAMI services in their programs and to establish relationships with managed care organizations.

Additionally, NAMI-NYC continues to monitor Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) program implementation process. These non-clinical programs are  important to helping individuals living with serious mental illness to maintain their recovery.  Those services include family and peer support, as well as employment services.

Thrive NYC: A Roadmap for Mental Health for All

We commend the city administration for developing and funding the Thrive NYC initiative, a set of 54 recommendations designed to reduce the stigma of mental illness and improve access to mental health services for New Yorkers, particularly those living in low-income communities of color.  NAMI-NYC supports the overarching goals.  The plan is ambitions, and the NAMI-NYC Board and its Family Advisory Board are particularly interested in the outcomes of the initiatives listed below.

1) NYC Safe Program – is targeted to address the needs of a narrow group of individuals with more complicated mental illness who may pose a concern for violent behavior.

We would like to receive information about who the City is serving with this program and what kind of services and supports are being offered. 

2) Expand and Enhance Discharge Planning Services  – Far too many New Yorkers who have behavioral health issues are justice involved. To ensure that these vulnerable New Yorkers do not cycle in and out of the criminal justice system, certain resources need to be put in place, including enrollment in Medicaid and health homes prior to discharge from City jails.

We would like to know the percentage of justice involved individuals who are receiving the aforementioned resources required to connect them to the community health system and any available data on improved outcomes and reduced recidivism for this group. 

3) Transition to Medicaid Managed Care – The mental health system is going through unprecedented changes for people who receive Medicaid who have high behavioral health needs.

We would like to know if these New Yorkers are receiving the integrated, coordinated quality care required to support recovery.  In addition, we would like to know if individuals are able to access the non-clinical care provided through the Home and Community Based Services programs, including peer and family support, and employment services. 

4) Police Crisis Intervention Team Program and Training and Public Health Drop-Off Center. 

NYPD officers are receiving CIT training and using those skills throughout New York City’s communities to assist people in mental health crisis, which will improve their safety and the safety of the NYPD officers. To ensure that the training program and the program implementation is effective, we recommend that both the CIT training and the program be evaluated.

We would like to know the evaluation implementation timelines and the evaluation outcomes. Moreover, the CIT program cannot work unless it is integrated with the community mental health system. To date, the administration has not located drop-off center sites. 

5) Social-Emotional Learning in Early Care and Education – Mental health must be understood as part of overall health and wellness. To ensure that New York City’s children are emotionally well and socially resilient, the administration expects to train 9,000 staff and reach over 100,000 children age 0-5 over the next several years to support children in their emotional development, their ability to regulate their emotions and adapt to new situations.

We would like to know if the City is on target to reaching those goals, and has successfully included parents and caregivers in this process. 

6) Mental Health Training for School Staff – We know that half of all life time symptoms of mental illness appear by age 14 and research demonstrates that early intervention is critical to improving outcomes and saving lives.  The City expects to train targeted middle and high school staff using Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA), a five-step plan action plan for identifying and offering services youth 12-18 years old in crisis, and using the Making Education Partners (MEP) model, to train staff in suicide awareness and prevention.

We would like to understand selection criteria for YMHFA training sites; how many staff have been trained and will be trained, and program outcome data.