Speaker Carl Heastie, Mental Health Committee Chair Aileen Gunther and Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee Chair Phil Steck today announced that the Assembly State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2022-23 Budget includes critical investments to improve access to mental health and substance use disorder services.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for New Yorkers, but we know that it has been especially taxing on our mental health and for those suffering from substance use disorders,” said Speaker Heastie. “These investments will help ensure that individuals who are struggling with their mental health or addictions have access to the resources they need.”
“The public health measures used to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 have undoubtedly had a major impact on our mental health,” said Assemblymember Gunther. “It is more important than ever that we make these critical investments so that New Yorkers can take care of both their physical and mental health.”
“Though the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges for individuals struggling with a substance use disorder and those in recovery, that is not the totality of the story. The increase in overdoses and deaths from overdoses in New York over the past 10 years can also be contributed to the reduction in staff and funding for OASAS,” said Assemblymember Steck. “My colleagues and I in the Assembly Majority recognize those challenges and the lack of support from the previous administration given to this agency. We are now working to ensure our spending plan includes the funding necessary to address the opioid crisis and the challenges of COVID-19.”
Mental Health Investments
For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused uncertainty, financial strain and social isolation. The Assembly SFY 2022-23 Budget includes significant investments to increase New Yorker’s access to mental health services, including $50 million in capital funds for municipal and nonprofit organizations to increase capacity and expand mental health and substance use disorder services. The proposal also provides $65 million to support current community-based residential programs to assist in preserving access to housing for individuals in recovery, and $5 million for Crisis Intervention Teams.
The spending plan includes a $53 million increase for children’s mental health programs operated by the Office of Mental Health (OMH), including $7.5 million in funding for residential treatment facilities (RTFs) for children, and $10 million to expand children’s community-based mental health services and integrate mental health services into pediatric primary care under the HealthSteps program. Other investments for children include $100 million over two years for the Recover from COVID Schools Program (RECOVS), which provide matching funds for enhanced education or mental health support and would expand the allowable source of matching funds beyond federal stimulus funds. The Assembly plan also includes an additional $40 million for more mental health grants for schools.
Other mental health investments include $29.8 million each for both the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York’s (CUNY) mental health services.
The Assembly Budget invests $35 million to support the implementation of the 988 Crisis Hotline to ensure that New Yorkers have access to culturally competent behavioral health specialists when experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
Substance Use Disorder Services Investments
Disruptions to daily life combined with increased stress and reduced access to in person services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a sharp spike in substance use disorders. The Assembly’s proposed budget appropriates $265.9 million from the Opioid Settlement Fund of which $77.8 million would be utilized to support the following state programs in SFY 2022-23:
- $60 million for Opioid Treatment Services expansion;
- $8 million for MATTERS program expansion;
- $6.5 million for the New York State Overdose Prevention Program;
- $2.3 million for the Transitional Housing Initiative; and
- $1 million for the Statewide Transportation Initiative.
The spending plan appropriates $200 million from the Opioid Stewardship Fund of which $24.5 million would be utilized to support the following state programs in SFY 2022-23:
- $9.2 million for the expansion of Access to Sterile Syringes;
- $8 million for the Medication and Treatment Affordability Initiative; and
- $7.3 million for Harm Reduction and Patient Centered Services.
The proposed budget also includes $2 million to fund Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialist (SAPIS) in New York City. Additionally, the Assembly provides $2 million to support integrated mental health services in state-run Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) facilities.
To ensure that individuals in treatment have access to safe housing, the plan provides $850,000 to create a certification process for recovery-supportive housing for individuals completing treatment for a substance use disorder.
The Assembly Budget includes an additional $5 million in funding, bringing the total to $15 million, to help New Yorkers get the pretrial services they need, including job placement programs, drug treatment and counseling services.