Advocates call for cost-of-living adjustment, $500M from NYS

Buffalo, New York – From substance use disorders to mental health issues, advocates gathered across New York on Tuesday, calling on the state to reverse decades of underfunding.

What you need to know

  • Behavioral health advocates organized a virtual rally on Tuesday
  • Leaders call on Governor Hochul to budget for 5.4% cost-of-living adjustment
  • Leaders are also asking for $500 million for workforce, service, and support

“Our collective voices matter,” said Amy Dorin, president of the Behavioral Health Alliance.

The governing caucus called on Hochhol and state lawmakers to invest in mental health and substance use disorder care systems.

The group is calling for a 5.4% adjustment to the cost of living and a $500 million budget line for workforce, services, and support.

“What I saw at the rally is consistent with what we see in the western New York area,” said Elizabeth MacBartland, president and CEO of Children and Family Services.

Leaders with Children and Family Services in Buffalo, which provide a wide range of mental health services, say hiring and retaining the workforce is a challenge.

They say it puts people at greater risk as demand for services continues to grow.

“Mental health needs that happen to us. to our family members. to our neighbors.

“My employees are frontline workers who are dealing with an overdose crisis and dealing with a mental health crisis,” said Stephen Cobb, director of the Mental Health Association.

Leaders of the Chattoqua County Mental Health Association have expressed the same frustrations and difficulties when it comes to helping those in need of support.

“We’re dealing with an overdose crisis that just requires a level of care and approach to get that under control, and we sometimes have difficulties getting the staff to respond to these overdose,” Cobb said.

“Think about the lives we could have saved, and think about the improvements we could have made,” said Ed Sechon, director of marketing and communications for Casanovia Recovery.

Leaders at Casanovia Recovery in Buffalo say there are 150 positions, with a 20% vacancy rate, or 30 positions open.

They say the work is challenging and shocking, now and before the pandemic, as death rates continue to rise.

“People we’ve lost will still be able to stay with their family members this year through the holiday season,” Sechon said. “Think of all the empty dinner tables happening across New York State that could have been prevented from that year.”

Agency leaders say they still hope state lawmakers will support them when the new legislative session begins next month.

“This is not just a one-time infusion of needed financial support, it is a commitment,” Mac Bartland said.

“It’s really essential to have a long-term commitment to our employees who support people with a substance use disorder or a mental health front,” Cobb said.

Both invite the community to communicate directly with lawmakers.

Local agency leaders encourage people to enter the field and help others.

They can also complete the form to the governor and ask them to include 5.4% of the Common Law Amendment Act and $500 million in the budget for the behavioral health sector.”

In response, the Hochhol Governor’s spokesperson released a statement saying:

“Governor Hochul understands the extreme stress on individual mental health and the mental health system caused by the pandemic, which is why Governor Hochul has announced significant investments in the mental health workforce and in OMH facilities, and we look forward to discussing these priorities with the Legislature during the upcoming session.”


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