Hochul unveils $1B mental health care plan

[anvplayer video=”5175864″ station=”998131″]

Sunday marks one year since a gunman motivated by hate shot and killed 10 Black people at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo.

On Monday, Gov. Kathy Hochul visited the Queen City to proclaim May as “Mental Health Awareness Month.” She has a $1 billion plan to overhaul the state’s mental health care system.

Hochul says it’s long overdue, and that the last time people paid attention to the state’s role in mental health services was during the 1970s. Her billion dollar plan includes $890 million in capital and $120M in operating funding to help establish and run 3,500 new residential units.

This week is also “Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week.” Hochul is allocating $30 million to expand mental health services for school-age children. Hochul says the money will also help close gaps in insurance coverage.

“My budget that was enacted prohibits insurance companies from denying access to critical mental health and substance abuse disorder services. Now the insurance companies have to cover it. That is going to be a big step of making sure that everyone has access to quality health care,” said Hochul.

Jeffrey Pirrone, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Health, agreed.

“Because of the $1 billion investment in this budget, significant gaps in mental health services will be filled. Over the next few years, we’ll see thousands of residential units at all levels of care, more inpatient psychiatric beds, and 12 new comprehensive psychiatric emergency programs – something that is desperately needed to alleviate the overwhelming demand for [comprehensive psychiatric emergency program] services here in Western New York.”

The budget will also provide $60 million to support the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. That’s $25 million more than was allocated this year.