MHANYS had a great opportunity yesterday to host a mental health community forum with Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, Congressman
Paul Tonko, SAMSHA Administrator, Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, New York State Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan, HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson and Dr. Dara Kass, Regional Director for Region 2 of HHS.
The forum featured Karl Shallowhorn, Director of Community Advocacy for Mental Health Advocates of Western New York as well as MHANYS Vice-Chair and a long term individual in recovery, Cohen Miles-Rath, Production Manager at MHANYS who is a peer with a powerful story of his own recovery, Natasha Johnson, a Residential Clinical Supervisor at Northern Rivers Family of Services, Dr. Yiu Kee Warren Ng, Child an Adolescent Psychiatrist at NY Presbyterian Hospital and myself.
The common theme throughout was workforce and the need to recruit and retain quality staff. When I spoke, I highlighted the need in NYS for a 8.5% COLA
as well as legislation that would create an exploration of an idea of a pension system for the over 800,000 workers that work in the human services
sector. In addition, we identified the importance of developing a pipeline from schools to careers in mental health.
It was clear from the comments of all involved that there was a major commitment to expand and share additional resources around the Bipartisan
Safer Communities Act including funding for 988, Mental Health First Aid, peer support, family engagement, CCBHC’s and school based mental health services.
To put an exclamation point to the meeting, SAMSHA Administrator, Miriam Delphin-Rittmon announced at the meeting, as part of the Bipartisan Safe Communities Act, that there would be an additional $245 million in funding to support youth mental health, help the workforce and address mental health needs and other supports. All of which are priorities to MHANYS.
We want to thank Secretary Becerra, his leadership team, Congressman Tonko and Commissioner Sullivan for holding a community forum at our office and utilizing National and State Resources to respond to the nation’s behavioral health crisis.