Washington – U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24), Co-Chair of the bipartisan Mental Health Caucus, today announced passage of three bipartisan measures he authored to expand mental health and suicide prevention services in Central New York. This comes as mental health experts across Central New York report an increased need for local mental health services.
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in June of 2020, nearly half of all Americans reported struggling with mental health and substance use. Mental health professionals at Contact Community Services in Syracuse have reported seeing a spike in local calls to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline and a significant need for additional resources. Additionally, local pediatric mental health professionals have recently expressed concerns regarding the lack of available resources to meet the increased need for support services from young people in Central New York. The bills Rep. Katko authored that passed today aim to address these local needs by bolstering support for local suicide crisis centers, expanding access to mental healthcare for students, and promoting access to mental healthcare for minority communities in Central New York.
“Across our community, throughout the ongoing pandemic I’ve continued to hear about the need for additional mental health and suicide prevention resources,” said Rep. Katko. “It’s no secret that COVID-19 has taken a significant emotional toll on many Central New Yorkers, and exacerbated the already worsening mental health and substance use disorder crises in our country. I’m pleased to announce today the House passed three bipartisan mental health measures I introduced to address these crises and provide so many Americans with the mental health care and support they desperately need. My bills will expand access to mental healthcare for children and adolescents in Central New York, support overburdened suicide crisis centers like Contact Community Services in Syracuse, and expand the availability of mental health services in underserved communities.”
Specifically, Rep. Katko passed:
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act. This bipartisan bill, which Rep. Katko introduced alongside U.S. Reps. Grace F. Napolitano (D, CA-32) and Donald Beyer (D, VA-8), significantly increased authorized funding for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from $12 million to $50 million while also implementing a number of important reforms to improve the administration of the Lifeline. The measure aims to support suicide crisis centers in Central New York like Contact Community Services, Inc., which handle the majority of local calls to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and have long worked on tight budgets while managing ever increasing call volumes.
The Mental Health Services for Students Act. This bipartisan bill, which Rep. Katko introduced alongside U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano (D, CA-32), creates $130 million in grant funding for schools to partner with local mental health professionals to establish comprehensive mental health services for students. The proposal would educate the entire school community—from students and their families, to teachers, administrators, and support personnel—on the warning signs and symptoms of mental illness.
The passage of this bill represents a continuation of Rep. Katko’s longstanding commitment to expanding access to pediatric mental healthcare in Central New York. In his first term in Congress, Rep. Katko formed the bipartisan Mental Health Task Force alongside Assemblyman Magnarelli to address gaps in pediatric mental healthcare. The group developed a series of recommendations to enhance care in Central New York, and highlighted the need for additional pediatric metal health services.
The Pursuing Equity in Mental Healthcare Act. This bipartisan and bicameral bill, which Rep. Katko introduced alongside U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D, NJ-12), works to promote access to mental healthcare for minority communities in Central New York and across the country by authorizing $805 million in funds to support research, improve the pipeline of culturally competent providers, build outreach programs that reduce stigma, and develop a training program for providers to effectively manage mental health disparities.
The above information provided by the Congressional Office of Rep. John Katko