HMHK Letter to Gov. Hochul

Testimony & Public Comments

September 14, 2021

On behalf of the Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids Campaign, congratulations on becoming New York State’s 57th Governor. Your record speaks to your understanding of the breadth of behavioral health challenges facing New York’s children, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are eager to work with your administration on urgent priorities to support the mental and emotional wellbeing of children in our state.

The Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids Campaign is a statewide coalition of behavioral health providers, advocates, and family organizations, that has joined together to create the public and political will necessary to ensure that all children and adolescents in New York receive the high-quality behavioral health services

they need.

The depth of the behavioral health crisis for our state’s children is difficult to overstate. Even prior to the pandemic, suicide was the second leading cause of death among children age 15-19, and roughly half of children with a behavioral health condition did not receive treatment or counseling. The State has been rapidly shutting down psychiatric beds and residential treatment facilities for children, but has failed to provide long-promised community-based preventive resources that would significantly reduce the need for higher-intensity inpatient services. Families have long faced a bleak landscape when trying to access behavioral health services for their children, whether they are seeking preventive care or more intensive and comprehensive services for children with more complex needs.

COVID-19 entered this dramatically under-resourced system to devastating effect. Between March and July of 2020, 4,200 children lost a parent or caregiver to COVID-19, and approximately 325,000 children were thrust into or near poverty; those numbers have only increased since then. Children have experienced over a year of profound personal loss, economic instability, housing and food insecurity, and unprecedented educational disruption.

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