Earlier this week, I had an opportunity to be interviewed by Capital Tonight about the mental health budget. Clearly this is a budget of great significance to MHANYS priorities around workforce, housing, crisis services, children’s services, school based programs, funding for addiction services and veterans mental health. Great credit is due to Governor Hochul and Commissioner Sullivan.We also are aware that this budget is not a panacea—it does not fix the many years of underfunding of our community mental health system. With full funding of only 11 of the 14 years of the statutory COLA, the State had not committed well over $500 million to our sector.
Deaths of despair, homelessness, incarceration, emergency room visits, long waiting lists are all part of the sad legacy of underfunding. Funding alone is not the only answer and certainly there has been great work that has been accomplished by the State, providers and other community members in supporting people’s recovery in the community, but when you have over a $500 million shortfall, there are going to be adverse consequences.
That is why MHANYS along with our ten statewide behavioral health partners are calling for the Legislature to work with us to include an additional $500 million in this year’s budget around priority areas of workforce, services and supports.
New York’s mental health care system faces workforce crisis
BY TIM WILLIAMS NEW YORK STATE
PUBLISHED 6:21 PM ET FEB. 15, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on health care workers and has led many of those workers to leave the field.
Glen Liebman, CEO of the Mental Health Association of New York State, said COVID-19 has “amplified” the workforce drought “tenfold.”
Liebman said the staffing shortage is an untenable situation with some programs seeing staffing vacancy rates of 30-40%.
“Without the workforce, we don’t have a mental health system,” Liebman told Capital Tonight.
Included in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget proposal was a one-time retention bonus of up to $3,000 for health care workers and a cost of living adjustment increase of 5.4%. Liebman said that those proposals are part of a budget that is “one of the best budgets we’ve seen in a long time, in regards to mental health.”
Liebman wants to see those incentives turned into recurring over a long period of time.
The state budget is due by April 1 and the state Legislature will hold its last budget hearings on economic development and taxes on Wednesday, Feb. 16.
This summer, a new hotline will be set up in the state for people facing a mental health or substance use crisis. The hotline, 988, will work like 911 and connect you with a trained professional to help you. Liebman said the hotline, along with crisis stabilization centers, are part of a system to help New Yorkers through a crisis
New York’s mental health care system faces ‘workforce crisis’
By Tim Williams New York State
PUBLISHED 6:21 PM ET Feb. 15, 2022