Chirlane McCray, the wife of Mayor Bill de Blasio, revealed on Wednesday that she had been surrounded by mental illness most of her life — first as a child of parents who had depression and later as a mother of a daughter who is recovering from depression, anxiety and substance abuse.
In a public appeal, Ms. McCray used intimate family turmoil as a springboard for public policy. She announced plans for a comprehensive review of the mental health problems that affect New Yorkers to help the city identify and address disparities in care. The review will be conducted through a partnership among the city’s health department, the Fund for Public Health and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which Ms. McCray leads as an unpaid chairwoman.
The “road map,” as the first lady called it, will be completed by summer, and the mayor’s fund will then commit money, though she did not disclose a budget.
Ms. McCray, who has worked in publishing and as a speechwriter, made her announcement at a conference of mental health professionals at Brooklyn Borough Hall. She lightened the mood by asking people to stretch and greet one another. Then she grew serious.
“My mother, who is a daughter of immigrants, and my father, who was a veteran, a World War II veteran, both suffered from depression at times in their lives,” said Ms. McCray, 60, who grew up in Massachusetts. “They had periods of intense sadness for different reasons. To their enormous credit, they still managed to bring us up. But we knew it was there.”
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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President