Governor Kathy Hochul has announced the first recipients of a $4 million scholarship program aimed at supporting underrepresented students pursuing mental health degree programs at the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY). The program, funded by a federal grant awarded to the New York State Office of Mental Health, seeks to diversify the state’s mental health workforce, which currently lacks sufficient representation of ethnic and racial minorities in roles requiring advanced degrees or certifications.
Governor Hochul expressed her enthusiasm for the initiative, stating, “Through this partnership with SUNY and CUNY, we are taking a crucial step towards creating a public health care system that is truly reflective of the communities it serves.” The first 11 scholarship recipients come from six different SUNY campuses, pursuing a range of degree programs in human development, psychology, social work, sociology, and mental health counseling.
In August 2022, Hochul announced that SUNY and CUNY each received $2 million from the New York State Office of Mental Health to support students underrepresented in mental health degree programs. Selected students will receive monetary scholarships, mentorships with mental health professionals, enrichment programs, and internships in mental health facilities or with mental health providers.
The mental health field, like many medical professions, faces significant clinician shortages, especially multilingual clinicians. This initiative aims to reduce mental health disparities in New York’s diverse communities by increasing the level of culturally relevant services.
New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan emphasized the importance of the partnership with SUNY and CUNY, stating it will help “create a more diverse mental health workforce that will allow us to better engage and work with underserved and marginalized communities across the State.”
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