The Power of Peer Support: Chiara de Blasio Promotes Mental Health
“Finding people that have gone through it … people being honest, open.” This is how Chiara de Blasio describes the key to her recovery. Peer support was crucial, she said, as well as the support of her parents. Daughter of the
In May, Chiara served as Honorary Chairperson for National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, an annual observance held to raise awareness about the importance of children's mental health. The theme this year, “Inspiring Resilience, Creating Hope,” reflected the focus on older adolescents and young adults and the importance of social connectedness to overcome the challenges of transitioning to adulthood in the face of mental or substance use disorders.
“I feel an obligation to speak out because adolescence is a time of vulnerability and insecurity, and we need to help each other during difficult times.”
– Chiara de Blasio
Joined by her parents, Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray, on the stage at SAMHSA’s observance of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, Chiara explained her struggle – one that she only began discussing publicly last year. In college, her clinical depression was coupled with alcohol and drug use, which she felt gave her common ground with her classmates. But it didn’t make academia or everyday life easier and Chiara started to feel a downward spiral.
“My therapist… referred me to an outpatient treatment center in New York City,” explained Chiara. “My mom was trying really hard to help me – any little thing she could do. My dad was doing the same, but he was obviously really busy.” Her father was campaigning for public office at the time. “They were both emotionally committed to trying to figure out some way to get me better."
Now Chiara is dedicated to serving as a role model of recovery and a peer to whom other youth can relate. Chirlane McCray said of her daughter, “She somehow found the strength to help herself and to help others."
SAMHSA was joined by 1100 communities and 140 national collaborating organizations in the observance. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde were also at the event, emphasizing the message of how significant peer support can be in recovery.
- KSOC TV: Supporting Young Veterans and Young Parents
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, which includes the national event Webcast
- Resources for Family and Friends of Young Adults
- Resources for Professionals and Providers Working with Young Adults
- Resources for Young Adults
- Young Adults With Serious Mental Illness: Some States and Federal Agencies are Taking Steps to Address Their Transition Challenges(1.27 MB, PDF)
Related SAMHSA Blogs
- Building Resilience in Young Children Dealing with Trauma
- The Power of Peer Support
- The Power of Prevention
On SAMHSA’s YouTube Channel
- Community Connections Work for Young Adults
- Help a Young Adult Soar PSA
- I am More than Meets the Eye PSA
- Social Connection: Housing
- Social Connection: Employment
- Social Connection: Education
- “Talk About It” PSA