THE BRONX - New York City's first lady Chirlane McCray is looking to improve and expand mental health services across all five boroughs.
She announced a project earlier this year involving the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Fund for Public Health that will seek to identify problems in the system and try to find new ways to improve services.
The initiative comes after several troubling instances over the past year where mental health played a key role. Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the man who shot and killed two Brooklyn police officers while on patrol, was said to be mentally unstable, although he had not been fully diagnosed.
Daniel St. Hubert, accused of viciously stabbing two children in an elevator last summer, one of them fatally, also prompted questions about his state of mind.
Dr. Buzz Von Ornsteiner, a licensed psychologist and coordinator of the mental health court advocacy program in Downtown Brooklyn, says revisiting the city's mental health care services could help lower the crime rate.
Von Ornsteiner says it all starts with the daunting task of removing the stigma associated with mental health.
More details on McCray's mental health care expansion road map are expected sometime this summer. She has already made clear that it must be as accessible as seeing a primary care doctor or getting a flu shot.