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The city of New York is aiming to push conversations surrounding mental health in the Black community forward. First lady Chirlane McCray announced the launch of a new program to help African American men cope with mental health issues, the Manhattan Times reported.

The initiative, dubbed Brothers Thrive, is a part of a larger effort launched by the city called ThriveNYC, the news outlet writes. McCray’s own experiences growing up inspired her to create Brothers Thrive. She witnessed her own father battle with depression during her childhood. “As a child, I didn’t understand why, even on Christmas Day, there just wasn’t much joy in our home,” she said. “My family story is a common one. We are all touched by mental illness and addiction, each and every one of us.”

The initiative will extend support and services to Black men battling mental health issues and will also provide free Mental Health First Aid training for Black men. The program aims to directly address the stigma around seeking help. A group of organizations that includes the 100 Black Men, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity,  Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., have partnered with the city on this initiative.

“People often feel more comfortable talking about these topics when they’re among people who look like them, people who they feel some kinship or affinity with,” said McCray. “It’s just easier to relax and know that their words will have meaning and validity and credibility.” Brothers Thrive is aiming to train 3,000 New Yorkers in Mental Health First Aid over the next year.

Many programs have been created to address mental health issues in the Black community. Last year, Nikki Webber Allen created a non-profit called I Live For as an avenue to break the cultural barrier surrounding mental illness.


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