Governor Kathy Hochul today announced steps to combat the youth mental health crisis, following a convening of students, faculty and mental health professionals at Mohonasen Central School District. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 4 teens have considered suicide, a significant increase from a decade ago, and for teenage girls, that number rises to 1 in 3. In response to this crisis, the Governor’s actions announced today will expand mental health support for children across the state, protect them from harmful social media features, and ensure their voice is heard.  

“Our kids are in crisis, and as the adults in the room it’s our responsibility to help,” Governor Hochul said. “The mental health crisis is one of the biggest challenges we face, and I’m committed to giving kids, parents and teachers the tools they need to address this issue.”  

Expanding School-Based Mental Health Clinics  

Governor Hochul announced $20 million in start-up funding for school-based mental health clinics and launched a rolling application, which will make it easier for interested schools to access state funding. With support from a school wanting to establish a clinic satellite, providers can now apply for start-up funding on a rolling basis rather than through the state procurement process previously used. This effort is part of the Governor’s State of the State commitment to put a school-based mental health clinic in every school that wants one.   

Licensed OMH clinic providers can now submit an application to establish a school-based satellite clinic through the Mental Health Provider Data Exchange. Every new school satellite clinic will automatically be eligible for $25,000 in start-up funding. High-need schools, or those where more than 50 percent of students are classified as coming from an economically disadvantaged household, are eligible for an additional $20,000.  

Today’s announcement builds on the $5.1 million awarded in November to support 137 new school-based clinics, including 82 at high needs schools, and bringing the total number of clinics to more than 1,200 statewide.     

New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “School-based clinics are an important component of our efforts to expand community-based care throughout the state and ensure all New Yorkers have access to critical mental health supports. By streamlining the process applying for start-up funding, we can help more schools establish mental health clinics and provide greater access to care for youth and their families. Governor Hochul’s effort to expand these clinics demonstrates her continued commitment toward strengthening all facets of our mental healthcare system.”   

Launching Governor’s Youth Mental Health Advisory Board  

Governor Hochul also announced that her Youth Mental Health Advisory Board will begin accepting applications from interested children and teenagers. The application portal for the advisory board is now open. Middle and high school students interested in mental health issues or with lived experience are encouraged to apply for the advisory board.   

This initiative emerged following last year’s statewide youth mental health listening tour and Youth Mental Health Summit. During those engagement sessions, young people communicated that they wanted their voices to be heard, and in response, Governor Hochul created the Youth Mental Health Advisory Board as part of the 2024 State of the State.     

The Governor’s Youth Mental Health Advisory Board will ensure that youth-informed best practices continue to be incorporated into New York’s public behavioral health programs and initiatives.    

Protecting Children Online

Governor Hochul is continuing to advocate for the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation for Kids Act (SAFE for Kids Act), which she included in her FY25 Executive Budget. This groundbreaking proposal would regulate unhealthy social media usage by prohibiting platforms from providing addictive algorithmic feeds to kids without parental consent.       

In 2023, the US Surgeon General said that social media can “have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.” This legislation would require social media companies to restrict the addictive features that harm young users while still allowing access to the platform and empower the Office of the Attorney General to bring actions forward for violators. Additionally, the New York Child Data Protection Act would prohibit online sites from collecting, using, sharing, or selling personal data of anyone under the age of 18 without their consent.

Expanding Access to Mental Health Care for Low-Income New Yorkers

Governor Hochul also announced measures to help low-income New Yorkers on Medicaid access mental health care. In the Governor’s Executive Budget, $15 million will be allocated annually to increase reimbursement rates for mental health services for children in DOH-licensed facilities and private healthcare practices, in addition to $27 million annually to support these same services for adults. These investments are designed to help these providers recruit and retain mental health practitioners to increase access for Medicaid members.  

In addition, the Executive Budget includes $5 million annually to support School-Based Health Centers, with a subset of this funding dedicated specifically to support services related to mental health.  

State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, “Governor Hochul’s commitment to expanding access to mental health services through Medicaid, and supporting school-based mental health clinics and health centers, will ensure New Yorkers have access to the emotional health services they need. These critical investments allow for increasing reimbursement rates for mental health services for children in State Health Department-licensed facilities and private healthcare practices, and also allow the Department the ability to continue to grow the mental health workforce.”

Governor Hochul’s $1 Billion Plan to Overhaul New York State’s Continuum of Mental Health Care

Youth mental health has been a focus of Governor Hochul’s administration and is an important component of her $1 billion multi-year plan to strengthen New York State’s mental healthcare system. In the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget, she secured $30 million to expand mental health services for school-aged children throughout the state, including $20 million for school-based mental health services and $10 million to implement wraparound services training.     

In addition, the Governor’s plan expanded HealthySteps, an evidence-based program that pairs pediatric physicians with child development specialist to provide universal services for children up to the age of 3 and their families in pediatric healthcare settings. Earlier this winter, the state Office of Mental Health awarded $7 million to establish 46 new sites in 19 counties and $10.7 million to expand 51 existing sites, with a goal of growing the program to serve roughly 354,000 children at 224 sites statewide by 2027.  

Assemblymember Aileen Gunther said, “Access to mental health resources is vital for the wellness of our children and young adults. The Governor’s investment is crucial in addressing this issue. My wholehearted thanks goes out to Governor Hochul. The future of our children depends on key investments like this.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *