New York Mental Health Workers to Get $19 Million from Feds

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October 16, 2021

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(NEW YORK)— New York state will receive $19 million in new federal funding to support those working in the addiction and recovery workforce, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Sept. 23.  The grant will help support substance abuse workers facing high addiction rates and staff shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The funding is part of the Substance Abuse and Prevention Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant program and was awarded by Congress to “provide funding for substance abuse and mental health workers,” according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to New York State, and has affected all aspects of our lives,” Hochul said in a statement announcing the grant. “This includes the addiction support workforce. This funding will assist our workforce throughout the state, and it will continue to enable all New Yorkers to receive the addiction care that they need.” 

The grant will be used for recruitment and retention, education, ongoing support, and career development for mental health and abuse center workers.

In June 2020, 13.3% of Americans reported new or increased substance use due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This trend has been compounded by a worker shortage in the country since COVID-19 began, specifically in the mental health and abuse support field according to the non-profit organization Kaiser Family Foundation (KKF). Only 23% of citizens in New York have had their mental health needs met by workers due to this shortage, said KKF.

The state’s percentage of need met is below the national average of 27.2% while more than 31.6% of New Yorkers report signs of depression. Additionally, 30.5% report needing counseling but not receiving it in the past four weeks,  KKF said.

“During COVID, we have seen an exponential rise in overdoses and overdoses resulting in deaths. Newly released data from the CDC shows that drug overdose deaths reached a record high in 2020,” New York Assemblymember Phil Steck, chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, said in a statement. 

“The addiction workforce has risked their own lives by continuing to work in congregate settings during COVID.  We need to provide every possible incentive we can offer to ensure that both in- and out-patient treatment facilities are kept open and appropriately staffed, as well as increase the addiction workforce during this time of extraordinary need.”

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