Mental health is a widespread issue in the African American community that often goes undiagnosed due to a lack of access. But New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray is taking matters into her own hands to change that.
She recently launched, Brothers Thrive, which aims to raise awareness around mental illness and provide Black men in the New York area and beyond with the proper access to health care services. To help fulfill this mission, McCray has partnered with several organizations including 100 Black Men and historically Black Greek-letter fraternities.
In an interview with Blavity, McCray says she chose these organizations because of the long-term work they have done in the community and the amazing networks they have built.
“I am not a brother. I love them, but I am not a brother,” she says. "It takes a brother to reach a brother in the most effective way. I'm very pleased they have taken this up. They all as individual organizations do so much good, but collectively they can do even more."
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I’m calling on every New Yorker to help us change the culture of mental health from shame and punishment to one of healing and compassion. #ThriveTogether pic.twitter.com/CXtYSS8YUF— Chirlane McCray (@NYCFirstLady) May 1, 2018
The launch of Brothers Thrive comes on the heels of McCray launching Sisters Thrive in December 2017, aimed at promoting mental health literacy and access among African American women.
“This is very personal for me. I know from my life growing up that mental health is really critical to everything we do,” she says. “We cannot live, love, learn, study –we can’t do anything without good mental health.”
Through Brothers Thrive, Black male volunteers will host various conversations throughout the New York City area about mental health. They will also encourage other black men to take Mental Health First Aid training, which teaches individuals how to identify and respond to mental illness and substance abuse.