NYC Well Evaluation
- Mental health is a widespread public health issue in New York City.
- Abt conducted a mixed-methods evaluation of the NYC Well helpline.
- Findings suggest NYC Well is filling a gap for behavioral health care among the population sampled, and high user satisfaction with the program.
Mental health conditions are a widespread public health challenge in New York City. To fill critical gaps in mental health services, the city launched ThriveNYC. Part of that effort is NYC Well, a free and confidential service for individuals seeking short-term counseling, suicide prevention and/or other crisis intervention, peer support, information and referral, and follow-up services for mental health and/or substance use concerns. Clients have the option to speak to either a counselor or a peer support specialist.
Abt conducted a mixed-methods evaluation of the NYC Well program. We collected data from a diverse group of 1,073 NYC Well primary users (82 percent of the sample) and intermediary contacts (18 percent), who contacted NYC Well on behalf of someone else. The evaluation examined a variety of issues, including patterns of service use and users’ reasons for contacting the program; their perspective and experience engaging with it; and changes in mental health outcomes over time.
Nearly one in five NYC Well users surveyed indicated they would not have contacted anyone in the absence of NYC Well. Twenty percent of primary users and 38 percent of intermediary users said they may have utilized emergency services if NYC Well did not exist. More than 90 percent of those surveyed reported they were “very” or “somewhat satisfied” with NYC Well services, and 75 percent said they would recommend NYC Well to others.
Primary users’ self-reported psychological distress level improved between their initial NYC Well contact and six months later. Significant decreases were also seen in the percentage of primary users who reported feeling nervous, hopeless, depressed, or worthless in the last 30 days. A key study limitation: we don’t know if the sample is representative of NYC Well users who did not participate in the survey or of the general population.