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New York faces rising mental health crisis amid declining psychiatric services

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli reported a significant increase in mental illness among New Yorkers alongside a concerning decrease in available psychiatric beds. Federal data revealed that 21.1% of New York adults experienced mental illness in 2021-2022, with a severe condition affecting 5.1%. This uptick in mental health needs comes as the state saw a 10.5% drop in inpatient psychiatric facility beds from April 2014 to December 2023, resulting in 990 fewer beds.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

DiNapoli emphasized the urgent necessity for enhanced mental health services to match the escalating demand. The COVID-19 pandemic’s aftermath has stressed the importance of expanding both inpatient bed capacity and telehealth services. Despite a 23% increase in individuals served by the state’s public mental health system since 2013, New York’s psychiatric services face a dire shortage with significant reductions in inpatient capacity, particularly in downstate regions.

The report highlights the state’s struggle to reopen psychiatric beds that were repurposed during the pandemic’s peak, with only a fraction of the beds returned to service as of April 2023. DiNapoli urged for continued efforts to improve mental health services, including expanding telehealth and addressing workforce and housing challenges. With over $1 billion in new funding allocated for mental health care in the 2023-24 budget, the state aims to tackle these issues head-on, though the effectiveness of these measures remains to be seen.