Chiara de Blasio honored for speaking out about depression, substance use

May 7
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray (C) hug their daughter, Chiara de Blasio (L), before she received a special recognition award at the National Council for Behavioral Health's Annual Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on May 6, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray (C) hug their daughter, Chiara de Blasio (L), before she received a special recognition award at the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Annual Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on May 6, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Celeb: New York’s first daughter Chiara de Blasio, one-fourth of America’s most interesting family, and the daughter of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Cause: De Blasio, 19, was honored Tuesday with a special recognition award by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at the National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day launch event for speaking out about her experience with depression and substance abuse.

Scene: Sans the song, it was a “Happy” day in the Potomac ballroom of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. De Blasio (navy dress, black heels, all smiles) thanked SAMHSA for its work in reaching out to young adults with mental and substance use disorders. “I would like you to know that this is only the beginning of a lifelong career in helping others affected with mental illness,” de Blasio said. Six million young adults, ages 18 to 25, have a mental illness, and are less likely to access mental health services, according to SAMHSA. De Blasio, by speaking and writing about her experiences, hopes to change that. On Tuesday, she penned an essay on her recovery for xoJane.

Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius presented de Blasio with her award after promoting a new component of President Obama’s “Now is the Time” initiative, “Healthy Transitions.” It will spend $79 million to provide more resources and improve access to mental health treatment and services. Her parents — Bill de Blasio, in a black suit and gold tie, and Chirlane McCray, wearing a royal blue dress — made the trip from New York.

“So many young people struggling with this disease slip into self-destructive spirals that can last for years,” said McCray. “Chiara had that self resolve to jump straight into the heart of recovery. I’m not just proud of her; I’m in awe.”

The mayor also spoke: “My own father was an alcoholic. He could not, unfortunately, tragically, find his way to this kind of help, this kind of recovery. But his granddaughter could. And she did.”

Sound bite: “One year ago, life didn’t seem worthwhile. One year later, here I am, and that is nothing other than a miracle.”

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