The 170,000 employees of the city Education Department will now get access to a city program that offers help with mental health challenges, earlier officials announced. Schools workers and their families will be eligible for the Employee Assistance Program, an initiative that helps city workers, at no cost, identify mental health needs, find counseling, and get specialized support for issues like addiction.
Our employees give so much to the students, staff and families of New York City’s public schools, and this expansion allows us to increase the ways in which the city gives back, said schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. The program is designed to support workers with mental health issues that may interfere with their jobs. It previously covered workers in city agencies including the Housing Authority and Health and Hospitals.
Through the initiative, city workers can get a free screening to figure out what kind of support they’ll need, and access to a regular counselor. They can also get referrals to more specialized treatment for substance abuse or dealing with a traumatic event. The United Federation of Teachers, the city teachers union, already offers mental health counseling through a union healthcare program. UFT president Michael Mulgrew said that won’t change, and that the new city program will provide even more options. The city mental health program will add 26 new employees to accommodate the new schools workers who may use the service.