Mental health initiatives being discussed in the New York State legislature

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Tomorrow marks the start of Mental Health Awareness month and New York lawmakers are looking at different ways to help those experiencing a crisis, or substance abuse issue. 

This year lawmakers were able to reject the initial executive proposal for 5 percent cuts to mental health programs in the state budget. Across the board cuts had been proposed by the Governor before the state received billions in aid from the federal government. 

“It’s just unconscionable to even consider making cuts in a place where people’s needs have actually gone up,” State Senator Samra Brouk said.  

Outside of the budget, lawmakers are discussing how to make mental health services more accessible. One bill would allow the state to begin putting together the infrastructure to carry out the three-digit National Mental Health Crisis Line. According to Senator Brouk’s office, by federal law, states need to implement the 9-8-8 system by July of 2022. 

Glenn Liebman with the Mental Health Association in New York State says it’s critical that a system be in place to “provide an immediate response to someone in desperate need of services and supports.”

There’s also a push to get more crisis stabilization centers up and running. The recently passed budget puts a blueprint forward to allow the state to launch these. 

“The same way you go to urgent care, if you dislocated your shoulder, but you don’t want to wait in the emergency room, that’s somewhere you go in and out. We really want to normalize, you may need to go to a crisis stabilization center if you’re in this red moment of substance abuse crisis or or mental health crisis to get you to a cool moment,” Brouk said.

Brouk notes while these centers have been talked about amongst those in the mental health community for years, it’s a relatively new concept to others. 

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