Mental and behavioral health advocates say more funding needed to address concerns

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Mental and behavioral health advocates are praising Governor Andrew Cuomo for his comments Wednesday about the emotional toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on New Yorkers. But they say the state should be providing more financial help to address the issue. 

“I’m telling you, from talking to people and hearing their voice and hearing their concerns, I’m telling you, we have a serious problem of the emotional stress and anxiety that COVID has caused,” the Governor said.

Several advocacy groups have signed onto a letter to the Governor to “provide full funding for mental health and substance use disorder services.”

“We’re concerned, because right now, due to the state’s fiscal circumstance, the governor has, unfortunately, had to create withholds of money that ordinarily flows to these agencies were counties, and they’re withholds of money that in the, in the pockets of providers, feels like a cut right now,” said New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare Executive Director Lauri Cole.

Advocates also say the state should “release federal CARES funds currently available to New York to support the mental health and substance use disorder needs of adults, children and families.” The letter notes that the state’s Disaster Distress Helpline was up 697% from June 2019 – June 2020.

In response to the letter, state Division of the Budget spokesperson Freeman Klopott said in a statement:

“The federal government’s failure to deliver funding to offset states’ pandemic-driven revenue losses, amounting to $62 billion over four years for New York, has left us with no choice but to temporarily withhold portions of payments. If the federal government fails to act, these temporary withholds could become permanent spending reductions.  Any area where we don’t reduce spending would mean deeper reductions in another, and the state funds schools, hospitals, police and fire departments, and services for the most vulnerable. Meanwhile, the funding provided by CARES Act can only be used for narrowly defined COVID-related costs. The State will spend every dollar on eligible costs related to the pandemic response, including personal protective equipment, testing statewide, and contact tracing. We hope these organizations will join us in calling for immediate federal funding.”

A coalition called Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids Campaign says the pandemic has been especially rough on children. 

“It is really new for young people to become adept at learning virtually, developing relationships with teachers and peers virtually, and trying to adapt to having their parents play a very different role in their education, and so that creates anxiety for a lot of young people,” said JCCA CEO Ronald E. Richter.

Cole says for anyone struggling right now there’s tons of help and resources throughout the state. 

“It would behoove parents and significant others and kin that care for kids and youth to demonstrate that it’s ok to ask for help, that adults ask for health and kids can, too,” she said.

Advocates also note that there are virtual or remote behavioral health services available.

Below are a list of resources provided by the New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare:

THE NY PROJECT HOPE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT HELPLINE: 844-863-9314

If you are experiencing anxiety, stress, or depression during the coronavirus emergency.

COMMUNITY HEALTH ACCESS TO ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTHCARE PROGRAM (CHAMP):

888-614-5400

The NYS Mental Health and Addiction Care Ombudsman Program, for insurance rights and help overcoming barriers to getting addiction and/or mental healthcare.

New York State’s Hopeline: Call: 1-877-846-7369. Text: 467369

For help finding addiction treatment and recovery resources in New York.

Capital Region Resources for Children, Adults and Families

·         Northern Rivers: 518-426-2600–serving many counties in New York State, including the Capital Region

·         Berkshire Farm: serving children and families throughout New York, including the Capital Region

·         Rehabilitation Support Services: 518-462-1094 –provides community-based mental health and substance abuse services in 14 upstate NY counties, including the Capital Region 

Crisis Resources

·         New York State Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-942-6906

·         National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741

o   Frontline worker? Text “FRONTLINENY” to 741-741 for specialized support

·         National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

·         Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453

·         National Adult Abuse Hotline: 1-800-222-8000

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