A new person-centered mental health response pilot program being rolled out at Fort Greene Park will see two dedicated teams giving support services to those in need in the park.

The Person-Centered Intervention Training (PCIT) Mental Health Response Pilot is being led by the Fort Greene Park Conservancy in partnership with NYC Parks and Fountain House, and it is being funded through a multi-year grant from the van Ameringen Foundation.  

Starting this summer, two Fountain House social well-being teams will be based in the park to proactively develop relationships with, respond to, and engage park users who need mental health support and services.

The program will provide a direct, empathetic and streamlined model to address mental health that gets people the services and resources they need, while helping to decriminalize mental illness and reduce racial and socioeconomic disparities within the neighborhood, the agencies behind the program said.

Each team will include a peer specialist — a person living with mental health conditions, in recovery, and certified to help others – and a social worker, who will connect park users to Fountain House and local resources.  

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP said the program was about ensuring the city’s greenspaces were safe havens for all that visit – including those who may be in need of intervention and mental health support.

“Thanks to van Ameringen Foundation’s generous support and our partners at the Fort Greene Park Conservancy and Fountain House, we can be change agents in the lives of countless people in the Fort Greene community,” he said.

“This pilot serves as a reminder that our greenspaces are more than just spaces for recreation but they are community hubs and resources.”  

As part of the program, Park Enforcement Patrol officers will take part in Person-Centered Intervention Training, a new model of learning about mental health and crisis response that combines person-centered or peer-based training and crisis intervention run by Fountain House.

Dr. Ashwin Vasan, president and CEO of Fountain House, said proud to take part in the program to meet the most vulnerable New Yorkers where they are.

“For 73 years, Fountain House has proven that with the right community supports and being treated with dignity, that people who are most impacted by mental illness can thrive and lead meaningful lives,” Vasan said.

“Our members have lower rates of homelessness, health issues and justice involvement because of the social infrastructure we have built that offers a systematic alternative to social isolation, criminalization, marginalization.”

Executive Director of the Fort Greene Park Conservancy Rosamond Fletcher said the organization was excited to be part of the partnership creating new pathways dedicated to crisis intervention and mental health as an alternative to a public safety response.

“Our goal is to have all community members get the support they need and to stay connected with us and each other as users of Fort Greene Park.”

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