With crime and violence up in the city, there’s no doubt that mental health and social inequalities have played a major role. To help address these issues, The Academy for Community Behavioral Health is offering free courses designed to help city social service workers respond to issues affecting the communities they serve.

Throughout 2021-22, the Academy developed more than 20 courses and reached over 2,000 learners from 250 organizations across the city, prioritizing the 33 neighborhoods identified by the New York City Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity (TRIE) as most impacted by COVID-19 or experiencing high rates of health and other socioeconomic disparities.

The Academy was launched in Spring 2021 by the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) Office of Professional Education and Workplace Learning with support from the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health and the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. Its mission is to build the capacity of community-based organizations, City and State agencies, and other social service providers to proactively address behavioral health.

Academy programs help social service providers respond to related mental health, economic, and social inequalities made worse by the pandemic. These have included a six-week course on skills to support bereaved community members, and an eight-week course that helps providers understand the mental health impacts of racism and use counseling skills to acknowledge and help people talk about their experiences.

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed many critical gaps in mental and behavioral healthcare that need to be closed. Innovative solutions like this are an example of what strong interagency and community partnerships can collaboratively develop to eliminate these barriers to care,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom.

In its second year, the Academy continues to give providers relevant and actionable behavioral health tools, along with support to manage the emotional demands of their work. The Academy will expand its certificate programs from one to three, adding Trauma Informed Leadership and Supervision (for organizations or teams) and Advanced Grief Support Skills (for individuals) in 2023.

“I am immensely proud of the work and trajectory of the Academy this past year,” said Jorge Silva-Puras, Interim Dean of the CUNY School of Professional Studies. “We are witnessing the strong roots taking hold in the city because of their efforts to support social service providers developing new behavioral health skills and extending access to care where it is most needed. Now, more than ever, addressing the large span of mental health issues facing New Yorkers is of vital importance.”

Visit academy4cbh.org to learn more about the Academy’s services, including free courses for NYC non-profit social service providers and custom services for City and State agencies.