Behavioral Health Advocates Call For Cost-Of-Living Adjustment,
December 22, 2021
Yesterday’s virtual rally seeking funding hikes for NYS behavioral health providers drew well over 250 participants and significant media coverage. Once more, association leaders and their members banded together to call on Governor Kathy Hochul to include a 5.4% COLA and $500 million to aid agencies and their devastated workforce. Many thanks to Ed Cichon from CAZ Recovery (NYS Council member agency) who stood with me and spoke so eloquently about the situation facing so many NYS Council member agencies.
See the recorded version of the rally, which features a number of very powerful and moving comments from provider and family representatives at https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/_Z0BA5jRCTTuJzBgQ1d6znvKPozVfX0Xe-6Y62SQvyTHzMS3yavjvHGJDQEg-1f9.FAxrmGuTaMpIc2UL
Our event drew the following direct response from the Governor’s office; “Governor Hochul understands the intense strain on individual mental health and the mental health system caused by the pandemic, which is why the Governor 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.”
Additional coverage around the state via the following media outlets:Channel 7 Buffalo – https://www.wkbw.com/news/local-news/statewide-mental-health-organizations-banding-together-to-ask-for-support
WROC Rochester – Checking into this as I know they did a local interview in Rochester yesterday.
News 12 LI
News Channel 13 Albany
Behavioral Health Advocates Call For Cost-Of-Living Adjustment, $500 Million From NYS
By Mark Goshgarian, Spectrum Buffalo, December 22,
BUFFALO, N.Y. – From substance abuse disorders to mental health issues, advocates across New York gathered Tuesday, calling on the state to reverse a decades-old trend of inadequate funding.
“Our collective voices matter,” said Amy Dorin, Coalition for Behavioral Health president.
The rally called on Gov. Hochul and state lawmakers to invest in mental health and substance use disorder systems of care.
The group is calling for a 5.4% cost-of-living adjustment and a $500 million budget line for workforce, services and support.
“What I saw at the rally is consistent with what we’re seeing in the Western New York area,” said Elizabeth McPartland, Child and Family Services president and CEO.
Leaders with Child and Family Services in Buffalo, who provide a wide range of mental health services, say recruiting and retaining a workforce is a challenge.
They say it puts people at greater risk as the demand for services continue to grow.
“The mental health needs that are happening to us. To our family members. To our neighbors. Our kids and their peers … And what’s happening is all these people that we care about are not able to access these much needed services,” said McPartland.
“My staff are frontline workers who are dealing with the overdose crisis and are dealing with the mental health crisis,” said Steven Cobb, Mental Health Association director.
Mental Health Association leaders in Chautauqua County expressed the same frustrations and difficulties when it comes to helping those in need of support.
“We’re dealing with an overdose crisis that requires just a level of care and approach to bring this under control, that we sometimes have difficulties providing the staff to respond to these overdoses,” said Cobb.
“Think about the lives we could have saved, and think about the improvements we could have made,” said Ed Cichon, Cazenovia Recovery marketing and communications director.
Leaders with Cazanovia Recovery in Buffalo say there are 150 positions, with a 20% vacancy rate, or 30 open spots.
They say the work is challenging and traumatizing, now and before the pandemic, as death rates continue to rise.
“The people that we lost would still be able to be with their family members this year during the holiday season,” said Cichon. “Think about all the empty spots at the dinner tables happening all across New York state that could have been prevented this year.”
Agency leaders say they remain hopeful state lawmakers will support them when the new legislative session begins next month.
“That this isn’t just a one-time infusion of financial support that’s needed, but a commitment,” said McPartland.
“It’s really essential that there is this long-term commitment to our staff who support people with a substance use disorder or on the mental health side,” said Cobb.
Both are inviting the community to reach out to lawmakers directly.
Local agency leaders are encouraging people to enter the field and help others.
They can also complete the form to the governor and ask her to include 5.4% COLA and $500 million in the budget for the behavioral health sector.”
In response, a spokesman for Gov. Hochul released a statement, saying:
“Governor Hochul understands the intense strain on individual mental health and the mental health system caused by the pandemic, which is why the Governor 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.”
Statewide Mental Health Organizations Banding Together To Ask For Support
By Giuliana Bruno WKBW December 21, 2021
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) – $500 million in 2022 + a 5.4% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA):
That’s the ask for the Behavioral Health Advocates Coalition, a group of mental health advocacy and providers that tell 7 Eyewitness News they need more funding and resources NOW.
“Once again we are looking at a tsunami. The only way we are going to be able to respond to this is all hands on deck with a broad based approach. That’s why we need such a massive move on the Governor’s part,” said Allegra Schorr, the CEO of the Coalition of Medication-Assisted Treatment Providers and a partner of the group.
The Coalition hosted a virtual rally on Tuesday with speakers including New York State Senators, advocates, and survivors themselves, to drum up support and attention for their cause. They cite the pandemic, isolationism, and a lack of resources are causes for serious concern.
“We are for the first time deciding treatment based on need. That’s hard – and its not good for the patients. Child and family services is all about familiarity, seeing the same people, having the same routine. When that’s disrupted or canceled completely, it is not a good situation,” said Elizabeth McPartland, the CEO of Child and Family Services in Western New York.
Child and Family Services of Western New York tells 7 Eyewitness News that if you are in need of services, their website is available for all types of mental health help.
They also encourage to support the Coalition, by calling local government officials in your area.
If that’s not possible, a second option is to fill out the link on the governor’s website: and include the text “Complete the form to the governor and ask her to include 5.4% COLA and $500 million in the budget for the behavioral health sector.”