New partnership offers free mental health support for the nightlife community

Article Contributed by Big Hassle Media | Published on Monday, October 4, 2021

The Office of Nightlife (ONL) at the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health (MOCMH), in partnership with Backline Care, announce the launch of Elevate: Nightlife Mental Health Initiative. Through the new partnership, members of NYC’s nightlife community – including restaurant workers, performers, and hospitality business operators – can join free weekly online support groups to address trauma and stress in the nightlife industry. They also have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a case manager to create a personalized mental health plan, and access additional resources and training.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the livelihood and wellbeing of NYC nightlife workers, many of whom have experienced sudden unemployment, loss of income and community, exposure to illness, and grief. Elevate: Nightlife Mental Health Initiative seeks to address the collective trauma that has developed in an industry that remains on the frontlines of the city’s re-opening and recovery.

“The Office of Nightlife is extremely happy to launch Elevate: Nightlife Mental Health Initiative with our partners at the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health and Backline Care,’ said Ariel Palitz, Senior Executive Director at the Office of Nightlife. “This is a critically important resource as we are on the road back to recovery. While there has always been a great need for mental health support for the nightlife community, it has only been amplified now throughout this most difficult year.”

"As New Yorkers in the nightlife industry help our city recover, many are dealing with the stress, anxiety, loss and instability brought on by COVID-19," said Susan Herman, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health. "That's why we are proud to partner with the Office of Nightlife and Backline Care to bring mental health support to New York City's nightlife community through online support groups.”

A significant component of the initiative are free online weekly support groups (Mondays at 4:00pm ET) to address trauma and stress in the nightlife industry. Led by a licensed therapist, and run by Backline, a national nonprofit organization that provides mental health and wellness resources to the music and nightlife industries, these virtual meetings serve as safe spaces for nightlife workers to come together, share their experiences and talk about what it means to work in the industry today. Past support group participants list multiple benefits of the offering, including gained perspective, stress reduction and healing through shared experiences. To sign up for the weekly support group, please visit https://backline.care/nyc-nightlife-support-group/.

Additionally, the Office of Nightlife will host a Suicide Detection Webinar to bring awareness to and provide resources for personal and workforce bystander training for depression and suicide detection, all additional topics covered under the Elevate harm reduction umbrella. This webinar will be held Wednesday, September 29th with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

"We are so honored to be called upon to serve the New York City Nightlife community, and to have the opportunity to expand our services to where they're needed most,” said Hilary Gleason, Executive Director of Backline. “By providing group and individual support to individuals in need, we can create a healthier and happier community for the music and nightlife community.”

“Covid accelerated and amplified the toll that the nightlife industry takes on its workers and spotlighted the fact that this issue has been swept under the rug for too long,” said Anya Sapozhnikova, Co-founder and Creative Director at House of Yes. “Backline is a massive step in the right direction, not just by providing much needed resources, but by highlighting the urgent necessity of mental health care in our industry.”

“We cannot express enough our gratitude to the Office of Nightlife for working so hard to create this much-needed resource for our community,” said Diana Mora, Owner, Friends + Lovers; Co-founder, NYC Nightlife United. “As an industry, the nightlife sector was one of the hardest hit and now our staff along with other members of the ecosystem have the tools to cope and build the resilience they need to succeed. NYC nightlife is vital to the revitalization of our communities and economy, if we don't take care of the people who run nightlife then we don't have a way forward.”

“The Elevate nightlife mental health initiative is so important for all night life people to process and connect to services and support,” said Mizael Mickey Ramos, Promoter. “I found it extremely helpful to have an outlet to discuss mental health and to bring back to my peers that are navigating social events in NYC.”

“The last eighteen months have been unimaginable for millions of New Yorkers grappling with the long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a city, we rallied together to respond and recover simultaneously from the ongoing threat to public health and small businesses. The interagency partnership behind the Elevate: Nightlife Mental Health Initiative reflects our deepening commitment to connect all New Yorkers in professions that are often overlooked with the support needed to better cope with trauma, lead more balanced lives, without compromising their livelihoods,” said Council Member Farah N. Louis, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addictions.

In addition to the free weekly support groups, specific resources available at on.nyc.gov/elevatementalhealth as part of this initiative include:

    Free one-on-one case management support to create a personalized mental health plan specifically catered to one’s needs, location, and financial resources.
    Access to the Elevate Nightlife Mental Health Forum, featuring presentations from the Office of Nightlife, NYC Nightlife United, House of Yes and Backline and training from the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health.
    A downloadable mental health resource guide, specifically tailored to those in the nightlife industry.

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