Chiara de Blasio, the daughter of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York First Lady Chirlaine McCray, has officially commenced her role as advocate in helping young people achieve mental wellness. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene initiative, NYCTeen, is a text messaging counseling program.
During press conferences last month at New York schools, such as Brooklyn’s Millennium High, 20-year-old de Blasio (with her mom by her side) spoke to her peers, and local media about her own personal journey to mental health. She also urged for the erasure of the stigma of mental illness and the many young people that are in need of psychological, emotional and mental guidance.
“It doesn’t matter what anybody else is dealing with. You know if you’re in pain, or uncomfortable, or stressed. I really encourage all of you to not doubt yourselves, and not doubt what kind of support you can use,” said de Blasio.
Her mother McCray added: “Many New York teenagers aren’t yet ready to speak their pain aloud. But they might be ready to text somebody who can help.”
Right now, posted in 10 New York high schools, are ads featuring de Blasio and read: “Text NYCTeen to 65173.” It is a virtual system that connects young people to counseling services. The program holds all information that it receives on confidential terms.
It is a cause that is close to de Blasio because back in December 2013, just days before the mayoral election (that her father ended up winning), she revealed her experiences with substance abuse and depression. On her own accord, the then 18-year-old posted a YouTube video of herself speaking about it. It was a brave move considering she was simultaneously featured in her dad’s familial campaign for the coveted office. In May 2014, she continued her stance on speaking up on mental health and drug use in an xoJane essay titled, “I’m Chiara de Blasio And I’m A Young Woman In Recovery.”
De Blasio, currently a student at a California university, made the trip back home during her spring break for NYCTeen to kick-off the text message initiative. At that same Brooklyn’s Millennium High event, de Blasio’s mother beamed at her daughter’s leadership role, calling it “courageous” as quoted by the New York Times.
To learn more about Chiara’s participation and all the new program offers, please visit NYCTeen’s website here.