An Open Approach to Mental Health Treatment

Hello. Its Tuesday. Find out about a pilot project that brings groups who can’t deal with mental health issues to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. And get details on developments involving the charges against Donald Trump in New York.

“We’re trying to figure out what’s going on in a person’s life,” said Jonathan Timal, part of a group that spent 30 minutes and eight hours in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

He and Jared Grant, colleagues from the nonprofit Neighborhood Housing Services in Brooklyn, have a specific assignment: Go up to people in the park, anyone, not just people who are showing signs of depression or anxiety, and ask a conversation-starting question, something like this. How are you feeling today?

They have a lot of things bottled up, and there’s no one to talk to, Grant said. It helps to let people express their preferences.

Timal and Grant are the faces of a pilot project, now in its fourth week, called Open Air Connections. It was billed as seeking to remove the stigma surrounding mental health care in an effort to reach out to the public. These two men are trained to assess the seriousness of complaints and refer them to organizations that can provide assistance.

Most people are healthy and need more, said Shola Thompson, the director of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in the cities who founded the program.

But Morgan Monaco, president of the Prospect Park Alliance, the nonprofit group that manages the park, added: “You don’t know until you ask.”

This is not usually done in parks, Monaco said as Timal and Grant chatted with two men near the park’s skating rink. This represents a new way of thinking about how the park contributes to public health outcomes.

It’s a way of thinking that gained popularity during the pandemic, when parks became a refuge for many New Yorkers. Parks provided a break from the lockdown controversy when bars and restaurants were off-limits and theaters and museums were closed.

For many, the pandemic has also brought the stress of unplanned hardships, job losses and financial insecurity. Not surprisingly, the health department found that about 25 percent of New Yorkers surveyed in a random survey had experienced anxiety and that about 18 percent had been depressed. Almost half of those who said they felt they needed psychological support did not know where to go to get it.

Enter groups from Open Air Connections. But Timal and Grant say they’ve heard more about the everyday worries of city life than serious mental health issues.

There is a woman from Brazil who said she is concerned about the inadequacy of the criminal justice system here and there. Later, a woman who said she was a college professor talked about crime on the subways. He thought he should get a car because he didn’t feel safe, Grant said.

They said they talked to a man in his 20s who lives near the park and he was upset that the landlord wanted to double the rent, to $3,000. They called someone from Neighborhood Housing Services and referred the man to an expert in tenant disputes and rental laws.

The health commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, said in an interview that this program shows the idea that mental health is not something that can be delivered through normal settings, clinical settings in particular. It’s something we have to bring to the people.

That’s why the Ministry of Health relies on a low-level model behind this testing program, he said.

He said it is important that these teams work for the Department of Health but work for public organizations and not wear white coats shouting at psychologists.

It’s not someone in a DOH hoodie, Vasan said, using a shortened version of his agency’s initials, or a mayoral campaign with a logo on it. This is a community organization that has existed in the community, has a history of serving the community and has employees who live in the community.

Vasan said each team was expected to participate in about 750 light-touch bouts lasting five to 15 minutes and 500 medium-to-high-touch bouts lasting half an hour.

Timal and Grant say their encounters are often at the edges of that type. Sometimes the conversation is unstoppable, and they have learned to let it go where the person drives it. We could talk for hours, Grant said.

The weather

It will be a mostly cloudy day with temperatures reaching the mid 40s and winds up to 15 mph Overnight, there will be a chance of light rain, with temperatures dropping to the upper 30s.

Alternate-SEDE parking

Valid until Thursday (Holy Thursday).

The Metropolitan Diary

Dear diary:

My sister was getting married in a small town in Maine. Both she and the groom were transferred to Brooklyn.

My sister asked me to bring two large, fresh loaves of bread as a special wedding meal. The other day, I stopped at Lords Bakery at Nostrand and Flatbush Avenues after finishing my classes at Brooklyn College.

I told the woman at the counter that I was buying bread to bring to my sister’s wedding in Maine the next day.

I asked if I should cut the bread myself. The woman said that bread can stay fresh on a long journey if it is not finished.

It turned out that the groom had asked his brother to bring him two large new-born loaves. The brother went to Nkosini and asked for two large loaves of curry, explaining that he would bring them to a wedding in Maine the next day.

Are you pulling my leg? said the woman. A woman was here earlier asking for two loaves of rye bread for her sister’s wedding in Maine tomorrow. Am I on a straight camera?

The grooms showed their ignorance.

She found hers untied, the woman said to me. Maybe you should cut yours?

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Submit a submission here again read more Metropolitan Diary here.

I’m glad we can meet here. See you tomorrow. JB

PS Here it is today Mini Crossword again Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

#Open #Approach #Mental #Health #Treatment
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