September 11, 2021
September 11, 2021 marks the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that changed our world. The horrors of that day linger in the collective memory of our cities and our nation, leaving deep wounds that have not fully healed. In the past year, those touched by the COVID pandemic experienced an extended period of loss, grief, and isolation; many people lost contact and connection with others as the digital divide between those who had and those who did not have access to computer and internet technology became apparent; the presidential election led to violence upon our nation’s leaders and highlighted the sharp political division that exists in the country, and Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd brought the nation face to face with pervasive racial and social inequities. In the midst of this turmoil, more people than ever before reached out for mental health care and substance use prevention, treatment and recovery services.
Over the past year, a workgroup led by members of several training organizations funded by the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), in collaboration with members of the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS), wondered what would happen if we asked people who are receiving services (and their families, peer supporters and service providers), what creates a sense of healing after trauma? What would those receiving, providing, or impacted by someone’s mental health or substance use services recommend to those systems of care?
What follows is brief highlights of a more extended list of recommendations by 3848 people in New York who responded to a survey, based on service user input, circulated between October and December 2020.
The project was titled, “What if New York were the Center of Healing for the World?” While New Yorkers are not the only ones with a need for healing from traumatic loss, the Anniversary of September 11, 2011 offers a unique opportunity to pause, remember, and reflect on what people themselves are telling us about what helps and what hinders in gaining or regaining a sense of healing.