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De Blasio Grows Emotional As He Talks About City Mental Health Support Plan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday outlined a wide-ranging plan to support and treat New Yorkers suffering from mental illness.

As WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported, de Blasio saluted the battle of his 20-year-old daughter, Chiara, with drugs and alcohol. The mayor also grew emotional while talking about his Yale-educated, World War II-veteran alcoholic father, who resisted all efforts to help him.

De Blasio's father committed suicide when the mayor was 18.

"He was strong and he was smart, but he couldn't do what Chiara did. I often thought about that. He never got to meet his granddaughter," de Blasio said. "But he never could do what she was able to do. And that says something about maybe, the fact that we're learning something."

The mayor emphasized that mental health issues should never be a source of shame.

"Back when I was in graduate school, for a time, I was going through some challenges and I sought some counseling for like a few weeks, and I found it helpful. I remember thinking, you know, was this something somehow to be ashamed of, and I literally said to myself, why am I even asking myself that question?" de Blasio said.

First Lady Chirlane McCray also sent out an email to New Yorkers, noting the importance of mental health treatment.

"If you woke up tomorrow with a high fever, chills, and a pounding headache, you'd have a few options to begin feeling better: rest, ask a loved one for help, and maybe see your family doctor," McCray wrote in the email. "But if you woke up tomorrow, exhausted again after more than two weeks of difficulty sleeping, constant sadness, feelings of worthlessness and were unable to function as you usually do, you might be less sure of how to treat your symptoms. That's because too often, we don't think about our mental health the same way as our physical health."

The new plan, dubbed ThriveNYC, is an $850 million investment over the next four years.

It will include mental health first aid training, a public awareness campaign meant to destigmatize mental illness and the city will convene a mayor's conference for mental health in 2016.

Officials said the city loses an estimated $14 billion annually in productivity due to substance abuse and undiagnosed mental illness.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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