N.Y. directs $5 million in school mental health grants: Hochul

N.Y. directs $5 million in school mental health grants: Hochul

New York State has started to disburse $5.1 million in grants for mental health clinics at schools, Gov. Hochul said Thursday, responding to the ravages of a disorienting pandemic that has left many youths drifting and depressed.

In New York City, where 52 schools are slated to receive funding in the wave of new grants, rates of students reporting suicidal ideation climbed in the COVID years, according to government data. In 2021, nearly 10% of public school students said they had attempted suicide in the previous 12 months, the city reported.

Hochul, who heard from students in a Thursday morning roundtable at a school in Manhattan’s Financial District, described youth depression rates as “alarming” and “astronomical.” She said she was contemplating how the government can further invest in students’ mental health in the next state budget.

In the last budget, the state secured $1 billion in mental health care funding. The grants for clinics in schools will range in size from $25,000 to $45,000, Hochul told reporters in a classroom at the Leadership and Public Service High School, which landed a $45,000 earmark.

“These kids are still struggling,” said Hochul, a Buffalo Democrat. “They are still overcoming grief, the loss of loved ones, the loss of their former self, the loss of the learning experience that should have allowed them to grow in a different environment.”

The governor said the state would allow schools flexibility in how they use the money. Mental health services in schools are often heavily used, when available.

Some of the other city schools awarded grants include the Benjamin Banneker School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the Riverside School for Makers and Artists on the Upper West Side and the Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists. Several yeshivas were slated to receive funds.

Schools applied for the awards.

The rollout of the grants comes on the heels of a new free, city-backed telehealth service for teens struggling with mental illness.

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