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NY AG James hears from local mental health providers, survivors in forum

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Posted at 4:30 PM, Jan 18, 2023

BUFFALO, ny — On Wednesday, at the Buffalo Erie County Library New York State Attorney General Letitia James held an open hearing about the status of Mental Health in Western New York, hearing from healthcare workers, to survivors of mental health crisis's to understand what needs to be done to help those who struggle with mental health.

Over the last nine months, Western New Yorkers have experienced traumatic experiences from the Tops mass shooting, the Christmas Blizzard, and the death of 5 children in East Buffalo.

"The impact of these tragedies on the mental health of this community cannot be overstated but, this crisis as we all know is not a new one," said AG James.

In the last five years, 3 psychiatric hospitals have closed meaning the area has lost more than 1,000 beds, which is why Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced a new iniative called SMART Collaboration which aims to bring access to parents' fingertips.

"Families will be able to use a smartphone app that will allow parnet sto access mental health resources for their children's needs," said Poloncarz.

Survivors insist on legal action to unite addiction and mental health care like Brendan Orr who lost his sister Jennifer last year.

"It is at the point where inaction is clearly a choice and it's ignoring people who are clearly struggling and who are vulnerable so we need structural change," said Orr.

For healthcare providers like Doctor Kenyani Davis, who says it comes down to access versus connectivity and creating a community of heath care provuders that look like her.

"You can have the fanciest entryway but if the provider does not understand where they are coming from, understand their community do not reflect or look like them or come from the same shared, lived expreeinces or are able to connect in the humann sipirt first, then there is no point in your fancy building," said Dr. Davis/

If you or some you know is in crisis you can contact the Spectrum Health Services at 716-710-5172 or Crisis Services at 716-834-3131.