The Harlem Strong Initiative, a community-academic partnership between CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, Harlem Health Initiative, Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, and CUNY Center for Innovation in Mental Health are conducting a multi-stakeholder community needs assessment to understand the challenges Harlem residents are facing due to COVID-19.

In Harlem, a predominantly Black and Latino community where nearly one-third of all households live below the federal poverty level, unmet mental health needs have only worsened due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and further strain an already under-resourced system. Now more than ever, culturally responsive, social justice, and community-strengthening mental health care and services are needed to not only prevent the widening of disparities, but also to fortify the community safety net system.  

This study is a multi-method and multi-stakeholder community needs assessment of Harlem, New York in the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic to identify: a) community mental health needs, stressors, and resources, b) preferences for mental health services in terms of settings, provider types, and communication approach, and c) explore potential barriers and facilitators of integrating and implementing mental health care into community-based settings.

The community needs assessment will
be implemented over three stages:

A scan of Harlem’s community-based organizations to identify and characterize organizations and services, especially mental health and economic empowerment services, offered in Harlem (completed in fall 2020)

Stakeholder quantitative surveys administered to 100 community-based organization leaders and staff, 50 religious and spiritual leaders, and 300 residents of Harlem. 

Key informant qualitative interviews from a subset of respondents to the surveys to further explore the specific needs and wants of the community.