(From left to right, MHANYS Board Chair and Northern Rivers CEO, Bill Gettman, myself, Governor Hochul and NYAPRS Executive Director, Harvey Rosenthal)
Yesterday’s Youth Mental Health Summit was one of the most powerful events I have participated in during my many years in community mental health. To have a Governor of New York State lay out a vision of how we respond to the needs of youth in crisis was incredibly powerful. Her bringing together the leadership, not only in New York State, but nationwide, spoke volumes about her commitment to youth mental health. There were so many great ideas that have come forth from the event that we will unpack over the coming days (hint—you might be hearing more about youth and teen mental health first aid).
AMID URGENT YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS, GOVERNOR HOCHUL RELEASES FINDINGS OF STATEWIDE LISTENING TOUR
Releases Summary Report Detailing Steps to Address Youth Mental Health Crisis, Following Youth Listening Tour across New York State
Report Released at First-Ever New York State Summit on Youth Mental Health at the Jacob Javits Center, Attended by More Than 1,000 Individuals
Experts Led Panels on Adolescent Psychological and Emotional Challenges, and Impact of Social Media
Recent Data Released by U.S. Centers for Disease Control Shows Suicide Rates Among 10-24 Age Group Reached 20-Year-High in 2021
View the Summary Report Here
Governor Kathy Hochul today released the key findings of a summary report of the Youth Listening Tour, held in counties statewide earlier this spring, outlining both findings and recommendations on how to best address the youth mental health crisis. The Governor released the summary report at the first-ever New York State Summit on Youth Mental Health at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, where she was joined by national mental health experts, youth advocates and providers, parents and caregivers, law enforcement specialists, educators, and over 1,000 attendees to examine the unprecedented mental health challenges many young people face.
“The isolation and uncertainty we experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact young people, who navigated key developmental milestones during this unstable time,” Governor Hochul said. “The era of ignoring and underinvesting in mental health is over – it is time for us to be the agents of change that our children so desperately need at this moment. I am proud to convene this historic summit bringing together the brightest minds in the world to share ideas, hear the experiences of our youth, and continue to drive this important conversation forward.”
The Summit on Youth Mental Health convened leaders, experts, and youth themselves to discuss the findings in the Youth Listening Tour summary report, which included several overall themes such as:
· The impact of the pandemic varied among youth and over time.
· Youth keenly understand the benefits and risks of social media and potential strategies to support healthy use.
· Developing positive peer relationships and social skills is challenging, and youth are calling for multiple school and community-based approaches to assist in the development of interpersonal skills and friendships.
· Youth highly value confidentiality, and why they perceive privacy and confidentiality has been violated it deters youth from developing connections with adults and seeking help.
· Youth prefer mental health interactions with trusted adults who are like them (age, demographics) and reported an overall perception of a lack of empathy and cultural sensitivity in adults.
· Youth want increased accountability for other students, teachers, and school policies.
Based on the findings from the Youth Listening Tour and the discussions held at the Summit on Youth Mental Health, several youth recommendations emerged, including:
· Investing in community-based resources for recreation and mental wellness promotion.
· Youth-vetted training on navigating social media.
· Increased mental health resources that are free/low-cost, confidential, respectful, and culturally competent.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new data just today that showed suicide rates among the 10-24 age group reached a 20-year-high in 2021. Earlier this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued its Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which found alarming mental health trends among school-aged youth between 2011 and 2021- especially among teen girls. Nearly a third of teen girls seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021, an increase from 19 percent the prior decade; and about three in five reported persistent sadness or hopelessness in 2021, representing a nearly 60 percent increase over the rate recorded in 2011. The U.S. Surgeon General more recently released a report on “Social Media and Youth Mental Health“, directly examining the impacts of social media on children and adolescents, as they relate to mental health and well-being concerns.
Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Today’s summit on youth mental health once again demonstrates Governor Hochul’s commitment to the well-being of all young New Yorkers. Her historic investments into the state’s mental health system, and particularly her focus on the concerns and needs of young people, will dramatically improve the mental health and wellness of thousands of children, youth and families.”
New York State Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave said, “Bringing together the leading experts and clinicians for today’s Summit helps remove the stigma our young people grapple with about their mental health challenges by knowing the State is committed to being their ultimate support system. We are grateful to Governor Hochul for leading this effort to truly hear our youth voices, recognizing their power to drive meaningful change in how we confront this crisis and develop comprehensive solutions.”
Rebecca Benghiat, President and Chief Operating Officer at The Jed Foundation (JED), said, “As Governor Hochul shared in her opening remarks, there is no one right solution to address the growing epidemic of mental health concerns — but, we need to take action now. On behalf of our team at JED, we applaud Governor Hochul and the state of New York for today’s inaugural Youth Mental Health Summit as a much-needed first step for prioritizing youth mental health. Statewide, JED supports more than 463,000 high school and college students through our programs, protecting their emotional health and preventing suicide. We believe that partnerships and collaboration is key and stand alongside Governor Hochul in support of the creation of durable — and effective — safety nets for teens and young adults.”
Cynthia Germanotta, President and Co-Founder of Born This Way Foundation, said, “We must all work together, with young people at the helm, to create safe and supportive communities both online and in-person. Young people want to support one another and are leading the way to a brighter future, we just need to provide them with the support they need to do so safely. Born This Way Foundation is honored to be part of today’s summit, which has underscored the urgency for all of us to uplift the experiences of young people, provide them with the tools and resources they need to be safe, and work with them to create a kinder and braver world.”
Dr. Warren Ng, President of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said, “Governor Hochul’s Youth Mental Health Summit acknowledges our crisis in children’s mental health. It amplifies our national efforts to highlight the urgent need to expand and diversify our workforce, especially increasing access in underserved & minoritized groups and communities. Governor Hochul is calling for bold actions, aiming to create transformative changes to support all children, families, & communities now.”
Dr. Mitch Prinstein, Chief Science Officer at the American Psychological Association, said, “In the face of a youth mental health crisis, New York State and Governor Hochul are leading the nation with an ambitious agenda to keep youth safe and healthy. Today represents a major step forward with serious conversations about what it will take to help millions of young people enjoy their childhoods and look forward to their future again.”
The Governor’s FY 2024 Budget includes a multi-year $1 billion mental health plan that makes investments in youth and family care, including the following:
· $30 million to expand school-based mental health services
· $10 million to strengthen suicide prevention programs for high-risk youth
· $3.1 million to bolster treatment for individuals with eating disorders
· $12 million for programs that promote early childhood development and in-home Crisis Intervention treatment for children and teens
More information around the New York State Summit on Youth Mental Health can be found here. Further information about Governor Hochul’s work around youth mental health can be found here.