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Mental Health Update

August 7, 2023
Mental Health Update

Op Ed in Today’s Times Union from MHANYS Board Chair and Northern Rivers CEO, William Gettman

Hochul heading in right direction on improving mental health

William Gettman, Albany

In her second State of the State, state budget, and recent Youth Mental Health Summit, Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed significant investments in mental health with the goal of “fixing the entire continuum of care that is necessary to keep people safe and happy.”

Her proposals ranged from expanding insurance coverage for mental health services to increasing capacity for inpatient psychiatric beds. The plan also includes an expansion of outpatient services, payment parity for school-based services, more wrap-around services for people transitioning from one setting to another, and expanded school-based mental health services.

This holistic approach is commendable especially in light of the growing need for mental health services in recent years. A recent survey of psychologists reported increases in patients seeking treatment for anxiety, depression, and substance-related disorders compared with 2020. Caregivers report an inability to meet the increased demand and that their patients are facing longer waitlists.

A key factor to the success of many of these initiatives will be the staff to provide those services. So the question and challenge is what do we do?

The solution will not occur overnight or with a wave of a wand. Rather, thoughtful, multi-prong efforts will create a positive direction. These efforts include strategies that fall into these key areas: increasing reimbursement rates, reducing administrative burden, augmenting the workforce, and incentivizing participation. With a critical need, leadership of the governor and a community willingness to make changes, success can be achieved. Let’s start now.

The writer is the CEO of Northern Rivers Family of Services.