Governor Kathy Hochul at a Youth Mental Health Listening Tour Kick off. (Gov Hochul Facebook Page photo)
Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday March 10th, announced $10 million in state funding is available to create a pair of statewide networks that youth and families will be able to rely on for behavioral health information, support, and services. Administered by the New York State Office of Mental Health, the funding will help establish two separate networks, including one dedicated to helping youth and another aimed at assisting families.
"New Yorkers who struggle with mental illness deserve a system of care that is suited for and responsive to their needs," Governor Hochul said. "These statewide networks will provide young people, parents, caregivers, and the peer advocates who serve them with the resources, expertise and support they need to address behavioral health concerns."
New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, "Youth Peer Advocates and Family Peer Advocates provide valuable input into the development of mental healthcare policy and programs. Their own personal and professional experiences with the healthcare system give them a unique perspective that can help us to improve the delivery of services and the development of programs serving children with mental health concerns and their families.
Each statewide network will be funded with $5 million over five years in an effort to foster networking, advancement support, and the workforce pipeline of peer advocates, which play an integral and growing role in the delivery of mental healthcare. These advocates also help implement programs and policies to best serve children and families with behavioral health issues.
The Statewide Network for Youth Peer Support and Advocacy will help empower young people towards personal recovery and resiliency in their treatment. The statewide network will connect young people and youth peer advocates, engaging them in activities that will inform state-level policies and the development of programs and support the integration of youth-guided practices into organizations and services.
In addition, this network will help guide providers, local governments, and organizations in empowering youth to become active participants in their own treatment. The network will also ensure youth are provided a voice in informing agency policies and practices, and to promote the youth peer advocate workforce and availability of these services.
The Statewide Structure and Network for Family Support and Advocacy will provide resources and information to family peers, advocates, and the parents and caregivers of children with mental health needs. This network will also help connect families to education, training, and resources and to establish connections to others facing similar challenges.
These networks will also help to advise healthcare providers, local governments and the New York State Office of Mental Health on policies and programs by providing them input from the youth and families they serve. Both networks will also help to grow and advance the work of youth peer advocates and family peer advocates.
Once established the two networks will complement Governor Hochul's comprehensive $1 billion multi-year plan to overhaul the continuum of mental health care and drastically reduce the number of individuals with unmet mental health needs throughout the state. A key component of her FY 2024 Budget proposal, the plan aims to dramatically expand access to mental health care, reduce wait times and ensure appropriate levels of care to correct a mental health care system that has suffered from chronic underinvestment.