Skip to main content

Mental Health Update

June 11, 2024
Mental Health Update

MHANYS Feedback on Legislative Session

As we know in Albany, the Legislative Session is divided into two separate seasons.  The first season is the State budget which is very important to our priority areas around mental health.  That time frame is when the Governor introduces the budget in mid-January till April 1st (in theory).  That is where we spend a lot of advocacy time fighting for COLAs and funding for mental health services.  The second half of legislative season is when the budget is passed till June 7th when bills are worked on that do not have a fiscal impact.

This legislative period is important and several of our priorities around mental health instruction in schools, medication access and public awareness issues have happened during this second season of legislative session.  This year, we had several successes (including passage of the social media legislation) but also we were unable to get some of our priorities past the finish line.  This is all detailed in the comprehensive report below from MHANYS Public Policy Director, John Richter.

MHANYS 2024 Legislative Summary

The legislative session concluded this past weekend with a number of successes for the mental health community, but much work is still needed.

Highlights of the session include the passage of the Governor’s social media legislation. New York’s Legislature passed a ban on the use of “addictive” algorithms by social media platforms aimed at children. The Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids act will prohibit social media platforms from serving content to users under the age of 18. Another bill, the New York Child Data Protection Act, bars tech firms from selling or otherwise profiting off minors’ data. MHANYS thanks the Governor and the Legislature for their leadership and expediency in passing this urgently needed legislation.

MHANYS also celebrates the passage of legislation that limits step therapy practices by insurance companies. Since 2021 MHANYS has fought alongside fellow advocates to curtail the use of this practice, also known as “fail first”, which negatively impacts patients’ timely access to optimal

medication treatment. MHANYS wishes to thank Assemblymember McDonald and Senator Breslin for their tireless efforts over the past three years to pass this legislation

Legislation that establishes a Rural Suicide Prevention Council also passed both houses of the

Legislature. The law is aimed at reducing the growing rate of suicide in New York’s rural communities by examining the epidemic of suicide and creating a comprehensive plan to address the problem.

We are disappointed that two new pieces of legislation crafted by MHANYS didn’t make further progress. Legislation designed to address the mental health crisis in higher education, introduced this year, stalled in the higher education committees of both houses. We are grateful to Assemblymember Gunther and Senator Brouk for sponsoring this critically needed legislation. Another MHANYS original bill that would establish a study group on optimal pension and retirement plan alternatives for non- profit organizations in the state also saw little movement. MHANYS again thanks Assemblymember Gunther, and we thank Senator Fernadez, for introducing the bill in January. We are encouraged however, that both bills picked up a number of co-sponsors in the waning days of the legislative session, which positions us well for next year’s fight!

Here’s an end-of-session status summary of several bills important to MHANYS that we fought for this year. There are several victories to celebrate, as well as significant movement, especially in the Senate, on other key pieces of legislation:

Legislation Supported by MHANYS

S.7694-A (Gounardes)/A.8148-A (Rozic) – Establishes the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) For Kids Act – Passed in the Senate and Assembly.

S.7695-B (Gounardes)/A.8149-A (Rozic) – Establishes the New York Child Data Protection Act – Passed in the Senate and Assembly.

S.1267-A (Breslin)/A.901-A (McDonald) – Requires a utilization review agent to follow certain rules when establishing a step therapy protocol – Passed in the Senate and Assembly.

S.3587-A (Helming)/A.7188 (Gunther) – Establishes the rural suicide prevention council – Passed in the Senate and the Assembly

S.8076 (Parker)/ A.8485 (Hunter) – Requires OMH to identify information and training programs relating to the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD for military veterans – Passed in the Senate and the Assembly, signed into law as chapter 105

S.9787 (Brouk) /A.7395(Darling) – Provides for definitions of mental health and family and youth peer advocates and requires OMH to establish peer service qualification programs – Passed in the Senate and the Assembly

S.8666-A (Mannion)/A.8560-A (Burdick) – Requires hospitals to ask patients if they have a disability that requires accommodation under the ADA on patient intake forms and what reasonable accommodations are required – Passed in the Senate and the Assembly

S.7079-A (Harckham)/A.7552-A (Burdick) – Establishes the “first responder peer support program act” which supplies peer-to-peer mental health programs to first responders – Passed in the Senate.

S.6537-A (Gounardes)/A.6665-A (Simon) – Decreases the frequency of lock-down drills in schools; directs that such drills shall be implemented with a trauma-informed approach; permits parents to opt their children out of such drills – Passed in the Senate

S.8965-A (Rivera)A.6799-B (Paulin) – Establishes a drug-induced movement disorder screening education program – Passed in the Senate

S.1865-B (Brouk)/A.6563-A (Clark) – Requires student identification cards to contain the new national suicide prevention lifeline number, 9-8-8, and the crisis text line – Passed in the Senate

S.8765-A (Bailey)/A.8464-A (Gunther) – “QMHA Title” – Directs OMH to establish programs for the training and development of persons capable of providing coaching and support to individuals under treatment plans developed by licensed mental health practitioners – Passed in the Senate

S.3036-A (Brouk)/A.2033-A (Rosenthal L) – Provides for the licensure of school psychology practitioners; authorizes the use of the title “licensed school psychology practitioner” – Passed in the Senate

S.5329-E (Harckham)A.6813-C (Paulin) – Provides due process protections to health care providers and recipients in the medical assistance program when under scrutiny by the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) – Passed in the Senate

S.156 (Krueger)/A.6603 (Reyes) – designating the month of May “Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month” – Passed in the Senate

Legislation Opposed by MHANYS

S.2451 (Comrie)/A.10458 (Bichotte Hermelyn) – Makes certain not-for-profit corporations subject to the freedom of information and open meetings laws.