Councilmember Robert Cornegy revealed on Monday a three-pronged proposal to expand access to mental health care in Brooklyn.

Joined by health professionals and community advocates at Brooklyn Borough Hall, Cornegy presented his agenda titled Mental Health is Public Health” to close service gaps in the borough by creating easier access to care, bolstering early intervention and community involvement, and improving police involvement and response to mental health-related incidents. 

Cornegy proposed to increase the access to mental health services by training local community stakeholders to recognize symptoms of mental illness and how to connect affected individuals with culturally competent care, as well as by developing non-traditional points of access for mental health services.

Councilmember Robert E. Cornegy Jr. Photo credit: NYC City Council/ Flickr

He also stressed the importance of creating a cultural shift around mental health that promotes mental wellness and abolishes stigmas, as well as improving mental health literacy within communities by offering Mental Health First Aid trainings.

A similar shift needs to happen regarding police responses to individuals affected by mental health issues, Cornegy said, which goes along with limiting unnecessary police involvement and stopping the criminalization of mental illness. He proposed a permanent Health Engagement & Assessment team (HEAT) and co-response teams at NYPD precincts in Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and Flatbush. 

“We want a sustainable course in place to minimize these incidents of negative police interaction with mental health patients,” said Cornegy to News 12

Cornegy has already created a first directory with health services currently available in his district and is now looking to further collaborate with ThriveNYC, the city’s plan to address mental illness and substance misuse, to better connect his constituents with services.

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