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Mental Health Update

January 8, 2020
Mental Health Update

MH Update – 1/8/20 – More Detail on The State of the State

Per my previous, email, listed below is more detail about both the Anti-Stigma efforts around veterans, law enforcement, correction officers and first responders as well as some detail about Improving Mental Health Services in Schools.

In addition, we are strongly supportive of the Governor’s call for additional Medication Assistance Therapy (MAT) for individuals in hard to reach communities and prison settings.  From a personal and professional perspective, I know that MAT and peer support save lives.


Proposal. Invest in a Suicide Prevention and AntiStigma Efforts for Veterans, Law Enforcement, Correction Officers, and First Responders (page 232):

Governor Cuomo has recognized the importance of combating suicide across New York State. With the formation of the New York State Suicide Prevention Task Force in 2017 and our progress since, he has taken steps to ensure that New Yorkers have greater access to effective suicide prevention resources. Recent data indicates that this effort is working as New York State has the lowest suicide mortality rate in the country. The Governor has also directed state agencies to create partnerships and enhance prevention efforts, but more needs to be done.

While suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, risks are much greater amongst veterans,  law enforcement, fire fighters, correctional officers, and first responders.  National data show that more law enforcement officers die by suicide than are killed in the line of duty, a fact New Yorkers witnessed with several tragic NYPD officer suicides last year. 88 Exacerbating the problem is the fact that veterans, first responders, and law enforcement personnel often fail to seek help in times of distress because of the stigma and detriments of seeking mental health assistance in their respective professions.

To address this, the Governor will invest $1 million to partner with organizations to help veterans, law enforcement, and first responders with suicide prevention efforts. The Governor will also direct state agencies to expand suicide prevention strategies for veterans, law enforcement, correctional officers, and first responders, including a new campaign by the Office of Mental Health to reduce the stigma of mental illness and to help ensure that they are not afraid to come forward when they need to seek help. Additionally, the State will convene a panel of stakeholders and experts at its annual Suicide Prevention Conference to develop and implement strategies for preventing suicide among these special populations.

From the Governor’s 2020 State-of-the-State Message (pages 249-250)

Proposal. Improve Student Mental Health Support by Creating Trauma Informed Educators In 2018, New York became the first state to require all schools to teach about mental health in school. In addition, under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the State has funded over $2.5 million in grants to support stronger mental health in schools, as well as the $250 million community school commitment. This commitment includes supports for student mental health.

Despite this, a recent survey from the New York Council of School Superintendents listed student mental health at the number one concern of superintendents for the 2019-20 school year 96 . Research has suggested that adverse childhood experiences (ACES), which are traumatic events that happen in childhood, can have serious detrimental effects across the entire life span. In New York State, over 45 percent of children have at least one ACE.98 Schools must be better equipped to support the evolving needs of the students. Governor Cuomo proposes a new grant program for school districts to support local mental health initiatives supporting students.

Through a competitive grant schools may apply for grants to support training on various proven approaches to providing mental health support for 250 students. This includes education and training in trauma informed care, therapeutic crisis interventions, and other methods to better understand and react to certain behaviors that stem from trauma and ACES as well as mental health services and professionals. Schools with existing proven programs would eligible for grants to expand their programs. Economic insecurity is the most common ACE faced by children in New York, so grants will prioritize schools with high number of children in poverty99. Through this program, schools will be better prepared to meet the mental health needs of all students.