Office of Mental Health receives $13.5 million in federal funding to expand collaborative care for youth; bolster ‘Zero Suicide’ initiative
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the state Office of Mental Health has received two federal grants totaling $13.5 million to expand access to mental and behavioral health services in primary care practices for youth and to implement the “Zero Suicide” model at 13 certified community behavioral health clinics across the state. The awards were announced following the New York State Suicide Prevention Conference in Albany, with the theme, “Changing the Conversation on Youth Mental Health: From Crisis to Prevention.”
“Now more than ever, we must acknowledge that mental health is a basic human right and that we must do more to help New Yorkers – especially our young people – before they reach a point of crisis,” Hochul said. “With this federal funding, we redouble our commitment to improving the mental health care system in our state and to ensuring all New Yorkers –especially our youth and those from vulnerable populations – have access to the stigma-free resources they can rely on to maintain positive mental well-being.”
New York state was awarded $10 million over five years to expand the collaborative care model – a holistic team-based approach to treating mental health conditions – at 15 youth-serving primary care practices, with a specific focus on advancing health equity. Funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the initiative will address mental and behavioral health problems among youth with co-occurring serious emotional disturbance and physical health conditions or chronic disease, with the goal of ensuring equitable access to underserved populations.
Along with technical assistance and support, participating primary care practices will also receive training in suicide prevention. Administered by the Office of Mental Health, a significant portion of the funding will be aimed at overcoming workforce shortages and developing a sustainable model.
In addition, the Office of Mental Health also received a five-year, $3.5 million federal grant to expand the “Zero Suicide” model – a systemic approach toward integrating suicide prevention in the health care system – among 13 Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics. One of 15 awardees nationwide, the state will use the funding to reduce suicide attempts and deaths among individuals 18 or older in the areas served by these clinics, with the anticipation of helping roughly 50,000 individuals over the course of the grant.
Hochul’s mental health care plan will more than triple the number of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics across the state to serve roughly 200,000 New Yorkers. First established in 2022, these clinics provide services for those requiring behavioral health support, specifically coordinating care across behavioral, physical health, and social service systems.
Earlier this year, he U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued its Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which found alarming mental health trends among high school-aged youth between 2011 and 2021 – especially among teen girls. Nearly a third of teen girls seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021, an increase from 19% the prior decade; about three in five felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, which was twice the rate of teen boys and represents a nearly 60% increase over the rate recorded in 2011.
The report also found that youth from marginalized populations are more likely to suffer mental health issues: More than half of LGBTQ+ students expressed having poor mental health, with one in five reporting having attempted suicide in the past year. Suicide attempts were also elevated among Black youth when compared to white youth, according to the report.
New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “We must do more to support mental well-being of our youth – especially among marginalized populations. Gov. Hochul’s landmark plan provides both an evidenced-based blueprint to improve our state’s mental health system and provides the funding to build these services and supports. We applaud this commitment as we collectively work toward reducing the stigma of mental illness and improving our system of care at all levels statewide.”
Hochul secured more than $1 billion in the fiscal year 2024 state budget to “overhaul New York's continuum of mental health care and address the unmet mental health needs of youth over the next five years. Among the investments included to help youth, Gov. Hochul's mental health plan provides $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; $8.3 million for new and existing school-based health centers; and $10 million to strengthen suicide prevention programs for high-risk youth.”