Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the availability of $2.5 million over five years to create and support a Mental Health Resource and Training Technical Assistance Center for Schools. The center will support all New York state public and private schools, and assist them in providing mental health education as part of the K-12 health curricula.
"The pandemic has made life difficult for all New Yorkers, including young people who have been through so much these past two years," Hochul said. "This funding will help ensure that schools in New York are able to teach our children about mental health with an age-appropriate curriculum that will decrease fear and stigma, and encourage kids to talk to their parents, caregivers or teachers about any concerns they may have."
OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, "New York has been a national leader in providing mental health education and services for children and youth. OMH has, in fact, licensed more than 1,000 school-based mental health clinics across NYS, which has increased access to mental health services for children and families. But we must also teach our children that mental health is as important as physical health, and they should not be afraid to ask questions or seek out help if necessary. The resource center will help our schools teach this valuable lesson to all children and their families."
Hochul’s team said, “Mental health education in school offers the opportunity to provide a positive impact on the overall health of children by enhancing their understanding of mental health. This holistic approach has the ability to reduce stigma and normalize mental health and wellness activities, and may also promote help seeking behaviors.
“The Mental Health Resource and Training Technical Assistance Center for Schools will help all New York state public and private schools provide required mental health instruction and assist schools by informing the content and incorporation of mental health into health curriculum.
More information on the request for proposals is available here on the OMH website.
Hochul’s recently released executive budget invests in children's mental health services, including:
√ Recover from COVID School Program (RECOVS): An investment of $100 million over two years will create a new state matching fund that will prioritize and assist school districts with the highest needs. Funding will support the hiring of mental health professionals and the expansion of school-based mental health services. It will also fund expansion of summer learning, after school, extended-day, and extended-year programs to help students make up academic ground.
√ HealthySteps: The executive budget would increase funding by $10 million. HealthySteps helps pediatricians expand their focus on a child's physical health to include social-emotional and behavioral health and to help support family relationships. Healthy Steps is facilitated by a mental health professional with expertise in child and family development who works with families and their pediatricians to provide mental health and trauma-informed care into the primary care setting.
√ Child Health Plus insurance: The executive budget includes $11 million in fiscal year 2023 (growing to $44 million in FY 2024) to improve access to children's behavioral health services by aligning Child Health Plus benefits with Medicaid benefits, including mental health and substance use services, home- and community-based services, evidence-based treatment for individuals diagnosed with serious mental illness, and residential rehabilitation for youth.
√ Trauma-informed care network: The governor's budget includes $10 million to expand the network and provide specialized treatment that addresses experiences that can traumatize children, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
√ Children and family treatment and support services (CFTSS): The executive budget increases funding for this program by $8 million. CFTSS provides an array of services, including youth and family peer supports and psychosocial rehabilitation, and can work with children and youth before they have a diagnosis, providing individualized and community-based supports for both prevention and treatment.
√ Home-based crisis intervention (HBCI): Hochul proposed an increase in funding ($7.5 million in 2022-23; $10 million full annual) to develop new HBCI teams and expand current caseloads to serve 2,640 families each year, doubling the current volume. HBCI provides short-term, intensive, in-home crisis intervention services to a family in crisis as an alternative to admitting their child in a psychiatric hospital.
√ Residential treatment facilities: These facilities serve our most vulnerable and highest needs children. The governor's budget would significantly increase funding ($7.5 million in state funds, $15 million with matching federal funds).
Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young Jr. said, "The challenges today's young people face are unprecedented and uniquely hard to navigate, and the effect on their mental health is devastating. Helping our schools to provide mental health education, mental health professional support, and social emotional learning for students, educators and families was a priority for the board and department even before the pandemic. This mental health resources and technical assistance center will help reduce disparities in access to mental health treatment in our schools and communities."
State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, "We must think of mental health services in a comprehensive way that supports a transformative whole school, whole child, whole community approach. Embedding resources and learning into all facets of a school helps provide culturally competent care and supports for the stress, trauma and anxiety faced by students and educators alike. I am grateful to the governor for this funding, and we will continue to work closely with Commissioner Sullivan and her staff."
New York State Sen. Samra Brouk said, "The social and emotional stress associated with the pandemic have been seriously disruptive for our young people, and the National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 6,600 teens and young adults died by suicide in 2020 alone. Today's announcement of $2.5 million to create a Mental Health Resource and Training Technical Assistance Center for Schools is a step in the right direction. Let's continue to invest in critically needed mental health resources aimed at young people – including investments in tele-mental health services, growing our mental health workforce to increase capacity and cultural competence, and crisis intervention services like the new 9-8-8 mental health and substance abuse crisis lifeline."