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New York gives boost to mental health workers with expanded loan repayment program

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

Governor Kathy Hochul has announced an expansion of the Community Mental Health Loan Repayment Program, increasing the fund by $5 million to enhance New York State’s mental health care workforce. The Office of Mental Health administers the now $14 million program, aiming to recruit and retain skilled mental health professionals amidst statewide staffing shortages and rising demand for mental health services.

The expanded program offers up to $120,000 in loan repayment to psychiatrists and up to $30,000 for other mental health professionals, provided they commit to three years of employment in licensed community mental health programs. The initiative now includes a broader range of licensed mental health professionals, such as social workers, mental health counselors, and psychologists. This increase is part of Governor Hochul’s $1 billion initiative to improve the state’s mental health care continuum, with 500 new awards planned, including 200 specifically to enhance workforce diversity.

The program, established in 2022 with $9 million in funding, initially focused on psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners, extending to psychiatric physician assistants earlier this year. With a national increase in mental health and substance use disorders, New York State is projected to face a significant shortfall of psychiatrists by 2030. Governor Hochul’s multi-year mental health care plan is set to expand services, particularly for children and youth, necessitating a more robust and diverse mental health workforce. Health leaders across the state have lauded the program’s expansion, recognizing it as a critical step in bolstering the mental health system and ensuring comprehensive care for New Yorkers.