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Public Health ∙ COVID Recovery ∙ Racial Equity

Recovering from the Mental Health Impacts of Covid-19

Covid has had a devastating mental health impact on residents of New York City. Death, economic hardship, loss of experience, survivors’ guilt and uncertainty are commonplace for so many New Yorkers. While equitable access to the vaccine is central to our recovery, we must take a holistic approach to our City’s recovery that includes investing in mental health services, with a focus on the needs of young people and improving our City’s crisis response system.

Expand the Number of Social Workers, Mental Health Providers and School-Based Mental Health Centers in New York City Schools

Young people will return to New York City schools forever impacted by the pandemic. Some students have gone without the mental health and wraparound services that schools uniquely provide. Before the pandemic, and even with a recent commitment to expand the number of school-based mental health providers, on average there was just one social worker per 716 students. We must dramatically expand the number of social workers and mental health providers who provide services in schools.

School-based health centers (SBHCs) are proven to provide much-needed healthcare for young people, including mental health care. A Yang administration will expand SBHCs so all young people receive the critical care they need.

Create 21st Century Mental Health Rapid Response Service

As more New Yorkers struggle with the lingering economic and social impacts of COVID-19, rapid response to mental health emergencies is paramount. While the NYPD is often called upon when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, a police response is oftentimes not what is warranted. Our City has already piloted Co-Response Teams which add behavioral health specialists to police response teams when New Yorkers are in distress. This effort is already promised to scale up in 2021.

A Yang administration will dramatically expand non-police responses to those in distress by expanding HOME-STAT, investing in community safety efforts at the local level, and empowering neighborhood networks of rapid response providers to get people in distress the care that they need.

See our full plan for a fair and safe city here.

Expand Number of Psychiatric beds

New York City has fewer hospital beds that are able to accommodate people with mental health needs than ever before. Currently there are 3,767 psychiatric beds in New York City. At the same time, the City is facing an escalating mental health crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic. Although there have been important reforms to healthcare thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion in New York State, and additional coverage for people who fall through the cracks, psychiatric and behavioral health services appear to be an afterthought. Through the pandemic, hospitals were mandated to have 30% of their beds available in case of another surge, and mental health advocates fear that they will not return. While we continue to deliver excellent outpatient psychiatric services to New Yorkers, a Yang Administration will work with H+H to expand the number of psychiatric beds by 20%.

Expanding Mental Health Support for Healthcare Providers

COVID-19 has taken an enormous toll on healthcare providers. New York was at the center of the pandemic from the very beginning, and it is our responsibility to ensure that healthcare providers and hospital staff who have had to experience the brunt of the pandemic are cared for. A Yang administration will expand mental health services for all hospital staff at H+H, while advocating for federal reforms to promote mental and behavioral health among those working on the frontlines of the pandemic.


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