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Local nonprofit I’RAISE holds urgent Youth Mental Health Crisis Discussion in partnership with NASW-

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

Roundtable discussion to address urgent need for youth mental health support reform in schools gathers mental health professionals and New York City leaders

NEW YORK, NY – At the first ever Mental Health is All of Us roundtable discussion hosted by I’RAISE Girls and Boys International Corporation on September 1, 2022 in Brooklyn, youth and city leaders came together to discuss the youth mental health crisis in New York City schools. Guests included I’RAISE CEO Shanequa Moore, LMSW, DYCD Commissioner Keith Howard, former Chancellor Dr. Meisha Porter, NASW-NYC Executive Director Dr. Claire Green Forde, NYC Department of Education's Chief of School Culture, Climate and Well-Being Jawana Johnson, and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Officer Erica Lynne Smith, Ph.D., LCSW.

Commissioner Keith Howard shared his experience with mental health.

He stated, “My parents’ generation’s responsibility was to put food and a roof over us. They didn’t care about mental health. Our parents told us to push it away from you. The biggest challenge for my generation was to unlearn that behavior.”

Dr. Green Forde stated, “Social workers in schools do not have the time to provide therapeutic services by law in New York. The reality is that unless the system actually supports the professionals in those systems to adequately do what they’re trained to do, it doesn’t matter how many you have.”

I’RAISE is launching its Integrative Mental Wellness Model across New York City, which includes mental health screenings in schools, parent support services, helping principals apply for and leverage mental health funding, and a full-scale social-emotional curriculum.

Moore said, “I believe schools should be a place where youth can come to learn about mental health, where students are treated not as problems, but as problem-solvers. Where parents are treated not as prisoners, but as partners. Where teachers are not burnt out but turned up. Where classes are not traumatizing but trauma-informed. Where principals are not depleted but supported.”

Brooklyn Community Pride Center works in partnership with I’RAISE to support youth mental health. Chief Executive Officer Floyd Rumohr stated, “Brooklyn Community Pride Center has long been gathering space for LGBTQ+ young people, especially those of color, to come together and find acceptance, community, and fellowship. We are thrilled to partner with I'RAISE, The Child Center, New York Community Trust, and agencies across the city to address the youth mental health crisis facing our communities.”

Traci Donnelly, the Chief Executive officer of The Child Center of NY, stated, “We’re thrilled to partner with this strong coalition to help meet the increased need for mental health support we’re seeing in so many communities across the city,” said Donnelly. “The Child Center has been supporting New Yorkers in the area of behavioral health for decades, and we are proud to share our expertise and experience with grassroots organizations doing this work—which is more important than ever.”

Six youth shared their experiences and observations on mental health during the event.

One youth stated, “I feel like nowadays people don’t care about mental health as they should. If you tell people about your mental health, people think of you as an attention seeker, being called a freak or weirdo. I’m a foster child and I have a foster mother but she’s not the best. ‘You’re young, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’ We weren’t given the teachings and knowledge of it and it affects into our adulthood.”

Another said, “When I was 12, I wanted to kill myself. I was going through a lot with my family. My aunt died. I had a niece and it made me look at life differently. I wonder if I took my life, I wouldn’t see her smile. Mental health is a lot to deal with. Why am I here, is life worth living? Anxiety, depression, and PTSD play a big part. Even though I’m in my adulthood, the inner child coming out asks questions if I’m safe…takes some time to heal and grow.”

Using a fishbone exercise, attendees discussed and identified the specific causes behind the mental health crisis. “Complex problems require us not to be problem solvers, but problem desonctructors. This means after we have identified that this is a crisis, we have to deconstruct the problem,” stated Moore.

Youth, along with Commissioner Keith Howard, presented highlights from those discussions, which included funding, trauma, lack of awareness or understanding, violence, and power.

Check out the livestream from the event at

About I’RAISE Girls & Boys International Corporation

I’RAISE Girls & Boys International Corporation is a nonprofit providing youth services to low-income communities. Its mission is to provide a holistic program to improve the socio-emotional well-being and educational outcomes of youth ages 4-21 years. It also aims to develop under-resourced communities and schools that help youth become successful in life. Learn more at

About National Association of Social Workers NYC

The New York City Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-NYC) is one of the largest chapters of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in the country. Founded in 1955, NASW-NYC represents professional social workers who are working throughout the five boroughs, primarily in public and non-profit organizations. Social workers are also in private practice and in other for-profit service related settings.

Nationally, NASW is the largest organization representing social workers in the world. The national organization, including NASW-NYC, seeks to develop and promote professional standards for social work practice along with NASW’s widely recognized Code of Ethics. NASW also advocates for strengthening programs on behalf of social work clients and for policies that support social workers in their professional work.


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