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New York Governor Hochul Speaks Out on Teen Mental Health as She Promotes a Budget Plan

ALBANY — Governor Hochul addressed New York teens Thursday as she touted the mental health investments included in her proposed $227 billion executive budget.

The governor said she spoke about access to care and the difficulties students are facing in the wake of the pandemic and the proliferation of social media following a listening session in Manhattan.

“I’ve declared that the era of ignoring mental health is over … and we’re going to lean heavily on this,” he said after the event at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. “We need more services in our schools, full stop.”

Hochul proposes annual grants that would help cover the costs of creating school services and wants to require private insurers to pay the Medicaid rate for services students receive. Private companies often pay below the Medicaid rate.

According to the governor’s office, another part of Hochul’s plan would see a $20 million expansion of mental health services in schools by increasing Medicaid payment rates for school-based satellite clinics and a $10 million investment. to expand comprehensive services in schools.

That would include an annual investment to provide seed funds to get new and expanded school services up and running.

The plan allocates $12 million to expand “HealthySteps,” a pediatric primary care program that supports healthy early childhood development and in-home crisis intervention teams.

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

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

Hochul’s office noted that last month, the US Centers for Disease Control issued a Survey on risk behaviors in young people which found alarming mental health trends among school-age youth between 2011 and 2021, especially among adolescent girls.

Nearly a third of adolescent girls seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021, up from 19% a decade earlier. About three in five felt persistently sad or hopeless, double the rate for adolescent boys and an increase of nearly 60% from the rate in 2011, according to the survey.

Governor requests a total of $1 billion to expand access to mental health care, bolster supportive housing and outpatient services statewide, and increase the number of outreach teams reaching out to New Yorkers at risk.

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

“Having staff, not just counselors, who know how to support youth is very important,” the teen said. “Staff like mental health providers, school psychologists, teachers, caseworkers, caseworkers, school security and much more need to be trained on how to engage youth so they can be successful, whether they are struggling or not.

“If you help them when they don’t have difficulties, you can prevent them from having them,” he added.

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