Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday was joined by Bronx elected officials, city agencies, advocates and providers to announce $50 million in funding for the expansion of mental health facilities.
The announcement was made Jan. 11 at the Bronx campus of the New York City Children’s Center in Westchester Square, a state-run facility with locations throughout the city. The $50 million is part of a $1 billion multi-year investment to significantly expand mental health services throughout the state.
“By building a full continuum of mental health services and supports for youth, we can ensure our young people and their families can access appropriate levels of care that will allow them to live and thrive in less restrictive settings,” said Dr. Ann Sullivan, commissioner of the state’s Office of Mental Health, in a statement.
“The Bronx is leading with so much innovative work on this issue,” Hochul said.
At the press conference, she pointed to the great need for mental health services, especially for youth, which she addressed at length in her State of the State address on Jan. 9.
Too many kids, Hochul said, are “spiraling” from the effects of the pandemic, and she blamed social media algorithms for directing kids to addictive and dangerous content that exacerbates their trauma. She is working with Attorney General Letitia James on a bill that would impose restrictions on the social media content shown to youth without parents’ consent.
Hochul also noted that an overall shortage of healthcare workers and lack of insurance coverage can be further obstacles to people of all ages receiving appropriate mental health care. And if young people are left untreated, she said, they will remain unhealthy as adults.
In the Jan. 11 announcement, Hochul specifically vowed that every school — public or private — that wants a mental health clinic will be able to have one.
In addition to in-school care, the mental health investment will take aim at expanding mental health courts, inpatient beds, and transitional housing, among other initiatives.
“For too long, [mental health] has been defunded and deprioritized — and now we’re feeling the effects,” said Hochul. “No New Yorker should feel abandoned, tossed aside.”
Reach Emily Swanson at [email protected] or (646) 717-0015. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes