New York 'at a crisis point' with children's mental healthcare

After an eight-year stretch that saw New York close 32 percent of its youth capacity in state psychiatric hospitals, children across the state are finding themselves with nowhere to go for mental health treatment.

Under a plan rolled out by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state officials eliminated beds for children while promising to expand access to outpatient and community-based mental health services, The City reported June 23. But those efforts were never adequately funded.

In the same period since 2014, nonprofit groups shut down more than half of the beds in the state's residential treatment facilities for kids, citing state reimbursements that were too low to keep the programs running, the report said.

"We're at a crisis point, and we certainly need action," state Attorney General Letitia James said at a June 22 hearing. "When a child is in crisis parents or caretakers have only two options: go to the ER or call 911. And too often, as we've seen in our office, they’ve had run-ins with the police that only make the situations that much worse. These children are waiting months and months for treatment."

In the first five years after the launch of Mr. Cuomo's plan, the number of mental health emergency room visits by young people on New York's Medicaid program jumped nearly 25 percent.

 

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