We the Patients

Crisis hotlines can’t be the only way we handle mental health– Winn Periyasamy, The Bronx

Winn Periyasamy, a Fordham Law student, went before the New York Senate and House Standing Committees on Health to talk about her experience with mental healthcare in New York.

After graduating from Barnard and getting her Master’s in Public Health at Columbia, Winn had difficulties making ends meet while freelancing and job hunting. During this time she had the added stress of prepping for the all-important LSAT entrance exam.

All the while, she was struggling with making sure she took care of her mental health. Even under the Affordable Care Act (which covers mental health) she struggled to get the care she needed. In those moments, she reached out to the Thrive NYC Crisis hotline, who would try to connect her with therapists who took her insurance.

Despite the best efforts of the hotline counselors, through, resources like Thrive or ZocDoc, they couldn’t replace actual sessions with a therapist. Even though sometimes Thrive counselors would be able to find therapists “in her network,” she struggled to find one where she could get an appointment or actually afford the cost of care– or, worse, she found out that some care providers weren’t actually in her network at all, leaving her depending on the Thrive NYC hotline to get by. Still, Winn considers herself lucky for having gotten through this part of her life: Because she had health coverage, she was able to avoid being “[left] homeless, without healthcare, and/or even incarcerated. I’m glad I’m still here. Many people aren’t.”

Winn’s full testimony to the Senate and House Standing Committees is below, and it’s worth watching: She talks in painful detail about how the healthcare system in New York fails even people with insurance, especially when networks don’t keep their provider lists updated.