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New York’s mental health budget praised; workforce challenges remain

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Governor Kathy Hochul’s budget for New York, focusing on tackling the mental health crisis with a proposed $4.8 billion, has received commendation from advocates and lawmakers. However, they express concerns about staffing the necessary positions to effectively manage this crisis, especially in maintaining and supporting the current workforce. Glenn Liebman, CEO of the Mental Health Association in New York State, appreciates the governor’s commitment but highlights workforce challenges.

The budget aims to expand psychiatric beds and enhance mental health resources in the criminal justice system. It notably includes early intervention programs, such as school-based mental health clinics. Despite these positives, Liebman worries about the proposed 1.5% cost of living adjustment, which falls short of advocates’ expectations. Governor Hochul has indicated that the recent budget increases are a response to historical underfunding and are not sustainable in the long term.

State Sen. Samra Brouk and Republican Sen. Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick both emphasize the need to support the mental health workforce adequately. Brouk is advocating for a higher cost of living increase, while Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick suggests exploring student loan forgiveness as an incentive for professionals in challenging areas. The budget includes raising awareness about existing loan forgiveness options, and Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick is keen on furthering mental health clinics in schools. Additionally, Brouk is pushing for the passage of Daniel’s Law, aimed at establishing specialized mental health response units.