ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Experts say nearly one in five adults in the U.S. live with mental illness. Part of Hochul’s State of the State addressed the new initiative to combat mental health and get people the help they need. “It’s about time, lets get it done! We can do this together. Lets get it done. Our people need this,” said Governor Hochul on Tuesday. Hochul received a standing ovation after she announced a one billion dollar investment in mental health that she said has been long overdue.
She said the mental health crisis is so concerning it’s also a public safety crisis, “New Yorkers are anxious on the subways and in our streets when they see individuals who need help. People unable to take care of themselves properly, people who can cause harm to themselves or other.” The Governor said she will add 1000 inpatient psychiatric beds. 150 new beds from the state, and she also insisted 850 beds be brought back in use, which would account for more than half the beds lost in 2014. “We’ll also invest in services to allow patients to be reintegrating in a way that’s safe for them, and safe for their community. So our inpatient beds don’t get backed up because more appropriate outpatient care is unavailable,” said Hochul.
Assemblywoman and Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Aileen Gunther said this investment has been a long time in the making. “You know throughout the state of New York we’ve seen people with mental hygiene unable to access care, we have seen people with mental hygiene that are arrested because of their behavior and they’re really suffering from a mental health disorder. A lot of our mental health folks end up in jail, and that’s not really where they should be,” she said.
Gunther said she’d like to see this funding provide a counselor for every school, open up more beds as Hochul mentioned and invest in clinics. Gunther said the length of stay to observe patients with mental health issues should also be longer and translators should be provided for people who speak languages besides English. “If we invest in the beginning then we won’t have to invest at the end and we don’t wanna see any more people in jail because of their suffering from mental health,” she said.