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'Community-based care has been drastically under-resourced': NYS AG's Office holds hearing on mental health

Attorney General Letitia James’ Hearing on Mental Health
Attorney General Letitia James’ Hearing on Mental Health
Posted at 6:31 PM, Jun 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-22 18:31:24-04

NEW YORK (WKBW) — The New York Attorney General Office is tackling mental health, and asking the public what can be improved in New York State.

According to the World Health Organization, the pandemic triggered a 25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide.

The hours-long hearing hosted by New York's top law enforcer, Letitia James, Wednesday afternoon.

Individuals who spoke ranged from health care professionals, lawmakers and community members.

They expressed the years of neglect, disinvestment of mental health resources, COVID-19 increasing the need for mental health services and now, playing "catch-up" amid another crisis: inflation and war.

Given the severity of the problem, almost every person who shared their testimony asked for more funding and increasing the state's mental health system's capacity by increasing the number of in-patient psychiatric beds.

Eastern Queens Council district member, Linda Lee said, "We need to coordinate better care between private, non-profit, local, state and other government providers, to ensure patients don't fall between the cracks. That includes ensuring a smooth roll-out for the new "988" National Mental Health Hotline."

"Community-based care has been drastically under-resourced and robust outpatient care has been inaccessible to many. As COVID-related hospital visits decline and emergency departments are overwhelmed, there are more individuals who require more psychiatric services but are unable to access necessary psychiatric inpatient beds," New York State Attorney General Letitia James said. "According to the State Department of Health, there were 12,738 visits to the emergency department for self-harm, in 2018, including 4,500 by young people for self-harm under the age of 19."

To add to that statistic, the CDC reported a 31% increase in mental health-related emergency department visits, among adolescents from 2019 to 2020.

Attorney General Letitia James said the office will review the remarks from today's hearing and move forward from there.