New York Gov. Hochul speaks on teen mental health as he promotes budget plan

ALBANY — Gov. Hochul reached out to New York teens Thursday, touting mental health investments included in her $227 billion executive budget proposal.

The Governor said she discussed access to healthcare and the hardships students are facing in the wake of the pandemic and the proliferation of social media after listening in Manhattan.

“I stated that the era of mental health neglect has come to an end … and we are going to actively build on it,” she said after an event at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. “We need more services in our schools, period.”

Governor Kathy Hochul

Hochul offers annual grants to help cover the cost of building school services, and she wants to require private insurance companies to pay Medicaid rates for services students receive. Private companies usually pay below the Medicaid rate.

According to the Governor’s Office, another part of Hole’s plan is to expand mental health services in schools by $20 million through increased Medicaid payment rates for school complementary clinics and a $10 million investment to expand comprehensive services in schools.

This will include an annual investment to provide seed funding to launch and launch new and expanded school services.

The plan is providing $12 million to expand HealthSteps, a pediatric primary health care program that supports healthy early childhood development, and home-based crisis intervention groups.

Hochul is also seeking $10 million in grants for suicide prevention programs targeting at-risk youth.

The Governor said she is planning similar hearings across the state, as well as a larger summit this spring, “to help break down barriers and stigma and allow more people to talk about it.”

Hole’s office noted that last month the U.S. Centers for Disease Control released a youth risk-taking study that found worrying mental health trends among school-age youth between 2011 and 2021, especially among teenage girls.

In 2021, nearly a third of teenage girls have seriously considered attempting suicide, up from 19% in the previous decade. About three in five felt consistently sad or hopeless — twice as many as teenage boys and nearly 60% more than in 2011, according to the survey.

The Governor is requesting a total of $1 billion to expand access to mental health care, support assisted housing and outpatient services statewide, and increase the number of outreach teams that have contact with at-risk New Yorkers.

Kay Danielle Thompson, a 17-year-old senior at Hillcrest High School in Queens, joined the governor on Thursday to discuss school mental health providers.

“It is very important to have employees, not just consultants, who know how to support young people,” the teenager said. “Personnel such as mental health providers, school psychologists, teachers, social workers, social assistants, school safety and many others need to be trained on how to get young people to succeed, whether they are struggling or not.

“If you help them while they are not struggling, you can prevent their suffering,” she added.

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