Press Release – AAFSC Hosts Mental Health Initiative Workshop

February 1, 2019

The Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC) is proud to partner with Maimonides Medical Center’s Community Care of Brooklyn (CCB) and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to host a two-day Mental Health Initiative Workshop on February 2nd and 3rd, in support of their Mental Health Initiative.

With this event, AAFSC, CCB, DOHMH, and trusted community stakeholders seek to promote community wellness, early detection, access to support and care, and connections to effective mental health interventions within marginalized Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities in New York City.  It is our goal to empower the AMEMSA community by building on existing resources so that community members can begin to receive appropriate mental health services and supports.

All community members, business owners, faith-based leaders, and practitioners are welcome to join. The workshop will provide insight into mental health and offer education and skills-based training to increase awareness and reduce stigma. This will expand the mental health safety net in the community, promote community engagement through a community care model, and increase the likelihood of people seeking and accessing the support they need in settings where they feel comfortable. The Mental Health Initiative workshops are part of the consortium’s larger efforts to reduce mental health stigma and increase access to resources and information through the Reclaiming Our Health Program, or ROH. In addition to direct, trauma-informed clinical services, the initiative utilizes a community participatory model to engage traditional and non-traditional individuals in building a referral network and expanding the conversation about mental health.

“The Arab-American Family Support Center is committed to promoting mental wellbeing. Now more than ever, trusted community organizations, hospitals, business owners, and allies must stand by immigrants, refugees, and other targeted communities. Together, we can reduce the stigma around mental health and ensure that everyone has access to the services they need to thrive” said Rawaa Nancy Albilal, President and CEO of Arab-American Family Support Center.

“Maimonides has long considered the identification and treatment of behavioral health issues essential to improving the general health status of the communities we serve,” said David Cohen, MD, MSc. “I am delighted that our Department of Population Health has had this opportunity to collaborate with our CCB partners in this important initiative.”

The two-day event, set to take place at the Subotnick Center at the Brooklyn Law School, will be an opportunity for community stakeholders to learn about the Reclaiming Our Health (ROH) initiative, discuss effective methods in reducing the stigma around mental health, and learn how to be a trusted resource for those suffering from depression and other mental health challenges. Workshop components include educational and skill-based training and breakout sessions with tangible resources to address issues the AMEMSA community faces regarding mental health. This event is free and open to all – registration can be completed at

About the Arab-American Family Support Center:

The Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC) is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization created in 1994 to provide culturally and linguistically competent, trauma-informed social services to low-income immigrants and refugees throughout New York City. AAFSC’s mission is to empower new immigrants with the tools they need to successfully acclimate to the world around them and become active participants in their communities. AAFSC initiatives operate across four priority areas–promote, prevent, get ready, and communicate–to promote wellness, prevent gender-based violence and child abuse, prepare family members to lead productive lives, and communicate community needs to partners and policymakers. While services are open to anyone in need, AAFSC has gained expertise in providing culturally and linguistically competent, trauma-informed services to marginalized and under-resourced Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian immigrant and refugee communities. First established in Brooklyn, AAFSC opened a second center in Queens in 2013 and since 2017 has offered services at Family Justice Centers across all five boroughs. AAFSC is also a founding partner of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a New York City public high school dedicated to fostering intercultural understanding.

About Maimonides Medical Center and Community Care of Brooklyn:

Maimonides Medical Center is a non-profit, non-sectarian teaching hospital located in Brooklyn, New York. The largest hospital in Brooklyn, Maimonides has 711 inpatient beds, employs more than 6,000 people, and sponsors a full range of residency training programs and fellowships. Maimonides is a designated trauma center and is Brooklyn’s only designated children’s hospital, and only provider of pediatric trauma services. Maimonides has been ranked by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as among the Top 10 health systems in the country for superior survival rates—placing it among the nation’s best hospitals in achieving better-than-expected results in the care of its patients.

The largest Medicaid provider in Brooklyn, Maimonides is the lead and fiduciary for a Performing Provider System (PPS) in the New York State Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program.  The Maimonides PPS, known as Community Care of Brooklyn (CCB), is a network of over 1,000 organizations, including seven hospitals, ten Federally Qualified Health Centers, more than 4,600 clinical providers, social service agencies, and community-based organizations, who are working together to improve health outcomes for over 600,000 Medicaid beneficiaries. Since the launch of the DSRIP program in 2015, CCB has demonstrated success in engaging with communities, enhancing primary care, improving care transitions, and supporting workforce development, with the goal of achieving the triple aim of better health, better care, and lower cost.

About Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH):

With an annual budget of $1.6 billion and more than 6,000 employees throughout the five boroughs, DOHMH is one of the largest public health agencies in the world and one of the nation’s oldest public health agencies, with more than 200 years of leadership in the field.

The Division of Mental Hygiene at DOHMH is particularly focused on finding solutions for the complex mental health, substance abuse and associated health challenges of New Yorkers. To this end, the division in conjunction with City Hall and associated city agencies have developed ThriveNYC, a set of 54 programs and initiatives involving an investment of $850 million dollars over a four year period that provides a roadmap for improved care and wellness.

The ROH project is being adapted for NYC communities through the Mental Health Innovation Lab. In addition to ROH, the Lab provides consultation, technical assistance and support to enhance implementation and improvement of ThriveNYC initiatives using research- and community-driven approaches.