On Long Island, a new mental-health support pilot program

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By Dan Sears

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A new pilot program aims to offer mental health support on Long Island.

The program, the Mental Health Navigator, is a new initiative from Family & Children’s Association (FCA), which is headquartered in Garden City. The program was made possible by a $25,000 grant from the Long Island Community Foundation (LICF).

This is a peer-led program, and it is being launched with the goal of establishing a safe and confidential space for people to share their individuals to share their mental health concerns, seek guidance and receive support directly from their peers.

“We understand that the people closest to the problems are also often closest to the solutions and as we face an unprecedented post-COVID mental health crisis, those who have successfully navigated mental health challenges in the past are uniquely poised to help support those who are struggling today,” Jeffrey Reynolds, president and chief executive of FCA, said in a written statement.

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“With this grant from LICF for our new Mental Health Navigator program, we will deploy Long Islanders with lived experience into emergency rooms, crisis centers and other settings to ensure that we are reaching individuals who might otherwise be reluctant to seek help and creating the robust circle of support they need to heal,” he added.

With the funding, FCA will recruit, screen and train peers who have demonstrated resilience and willingness to help others. Through peer-driven outreach and engagement, FCA said it would directly meet clients “where they are” and deploy the program into community and hospital settings.

“Peers can be an integral part of an individual’s clinical care team,” David Okorn, executive director of the LICF, said in a written statement. “Through their own lived experiences, they remove stigma, model recovery, and promote shared understanding and trust. We are proud to partner with FCA and support this pilot program.”

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The Mental Health Navigator program is designed to provide support to those who are struggling, help to further reduce the stigma associated with mental health, and make a positive difference in the lives of all Long Islanders.

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