Yesterday, the Assembly Committee on Education held a hearing on health,
mental health and physical education in schools. We are very appreciative
of Assembly Education Chair Cathy Nolan for holding this hearing. It served
as a great opportunity for us to talk about the impact of the law in the
mental health community as well as highlight the School Mental Health
Training and Resource Center. The members of the Committee and the other
Assemblymembers in attendance were clearly supportive of the intent of the
legislation. We were also pleased that Assemblywoman Nolan referenced her
former staff person Devra Nussbaum who was integral to the success of the
legislation as well the Mental Hygiene Chair, Aileen Gunther for her
support of the law and of the Training and Resource Center.
The various stakeholder voiced both their opportunities and concerns about
the law. We were appreciative that NYSUT, the School Boards Association and
the New York State Council of School Superintendents all voiced their
support of the Resource Center. Commissioner Elia’s comments about the law
were also very well received. One of the most significant side effects of
the law’s passing was the strong collaborations developed between the State
Department of Education and the New York State Office of Mental Health.
Last week at the MHANYS Conference, both Commissioner Elia and OMH
Commissioner Sullivan spoke about the positive impact of the relationships
developed between the two agencies in regard to several arenas including
school based mental health programs, community schools and impact of the
new law in regard to school climate.
While this legislation is still in its infancy, it appears very clear that
there is a need that has been identified and the law will help address
that need. The more resources we could put towards this initiative, the
better chance that we will be able to greatly change school climate in
regard to mental health.
MHANYS testimony is attached.