After Cuomo Addresses Uptick in COVID Related Mental Health Issues, Advocates Call on State to Address New York’s Child Behavioral Health Crisis

Press Releases

October 21, 2020

Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids Campaign Echoes Governor Cuomo: “We have a serious problem of the emotional stress and anxiety that COVID has caused”

Campaign Urges Immediate Response to Rising Rates of Childhood Anxiety, Depression, and Declines in Screenings

Albany, NY – Today, after Governor Cuomo highlighted how the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a serious emotional and mental toll on New Yorkers during his October 21st press conference, the Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids Campaign released the following statement:

“COVID-19 has exacerbated an already catastrophic situation for child and adolescent mental health across New York State. Even prior to the pandemic, suicide was the second leading cause of death for children ages 15-19, and the third leading cause of death for children 5-14. Roughly half of children with a mental/behavioral condition who needed treatment or counseling did not receive it in the past year. As a result of the pandemic, children and teens are grappling with unprecedented economic devastation, housing insecurity, social isolation, disrupted schooling, and a grave loss of life in their families and local communities. Consequently, child psychiatrists have seen a significant spike in anxiety and depression among young people and report a growth in young people coming to hospitals with dangerous psychiatric emergencies. Like all other aspects of this pandemic, the mental toll of COVID-19 has fallen disproportionately on working-class immigrant neighborhoods, and among Black and brown communities that have faced historic and institutional inequities. New York State must take an immediate and comprehensive approach to address the mental health needs of children and families before more sick kids become sick adults and an already severe child mental health crisis becomes even more deadly.”

The Campaign also highlighted concerns over recent Medicaid and CHIP data released by CMS which shows a dramatic decline in vaccinations, primary, and preventive services, including a 44% decline in child screenings and outpatient mental health services. This makes clear that too many children in need of care are going without it.

The Campaign urges the State to take action to address the mental health needs of children, including:

  • • Enabling recovery by protecting child and family services from harmful cuts and increasing investments in clinical and community-based behavioral health services;
  • • Closing the digital divide and ensuring equitable access to telehealth services;
  • • Ensuring coverage of Child and Family Treatment and Support Services (CFTSS) in the Child Health Plus program;
  • • Protecting and expanding investments in school-based behavioral health services; and
  • • Planning and promoting “Pop-up” Assessment Centers at schools, firehouses, food pick-up locations, community centers, and other key sites where children and families congregate to facilitate mental health screenings (including by Child and Family Treatment and Support Service providers).

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