New York State Governor Kathy Hochul has unveiled a $1 billion plan aimed at transforming the state’s continuum of mental health care and reducing the number of New Yorkers with unmet mental health needs. The Mental Health Care Plan is part of the FY 2024 Budget, and will increase psychiatric treatment capacity, expand outpatient services, boost insurance coverage, and create thousands of more units of supportive and transitional housing for people with mental illness. The Governor made the announcement at the Delavan Grider Community Center in Buffalo, joined by Congressman Brian Higgins, Mayor Byron Brown, and mental health and community leaders.
The FY 2024 Budget provides $890 million in capital and $120 million in operating funding to establish and operate 3,500 new residential units serving those with mental health challenges. It also includes $30 million to expand mental health services for school-aged children throughout the state, including $20 million for school-based mental health services and $10 million to implement wraparound services training. Additionally, the Budget includes $10 million to strengthen suicide prevention programs for high-risk youth.
The Mental Health Care Plan will invest in peer-based outreach, close gaps in insurance coverage for behavioral health services, and significantly expand outpatient services. The plan provides $18 million in capital and $30 million in operating funding to expand inpatient psychiatric beds, including opening 150 new adult beds in State-operated psychiatric hospitals. The plan also invests $60 million in capital and $121.6 million in operating funding to establish 12 new comprehensive psychiatric emergency programs providing hospital-level crisis care and triple the number of State-funded Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics statewide.
The plan will fund 42 additional Assertive Community Treatment teams for children and adults to provide mobile, high intensity services to the most at-risk New Yorkers and eight additional Safe Options Support teams — five in New York City and three in the rest of the state. It also provides $28 million to create 50 new Critical Time Intervention care coordination teams to provide wrap-around services, from housing to job supports, for individuals needing transition assistance, including children and adults discharged from hospitals and emergency rooms.
In addition to these initiatives, the plan will close gaps in insurance coverage that have posed a barrier to New Yorkers needing mental health care and substance use disorder services. The Budget also provides an additional $60 million to support the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, an increase of $25 million from the prior Budget.
Governor Hochul designated May as Mental Health Awareness Month and May 7 to 13 as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Dr. Ann Sullivan, the New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner, said that the Mental Heath Care Plan is a comprehensive strategy that will dramatically increase access to mental health services in communities across the state, including those that have been underserved for many years. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown commended the Governor for providing record investment in the mental health care system, which will lead to better outcomes for those in the community who struggle and are in search of help.
Overall, Governor Hochul’s Mental Health Care Plan is a significant investment in New York State’s mental health infrastructure, with the potential to positively impact the lives of many individuals and families in the state.