NEW YORK – As New York state is dealing with a crisis in mental health care, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that her office will host an in-person public hearing to examine the accessibility of mental health care for New Yorkers with serious mental illness across the state. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, June 22nd, at 2 PM, and members of the public, advocacy groups, healthcare providers, and government agencies are encouraged to testify.
“There is no doubt that New York is in the midst of a mental health crisis that has only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Attorney General James. “For decades, New York has seen a decline of short-term inpatient psychiatric beds, which are critical to providing consistent and thorough mental health care in our communities. With this hearing, I intend to spotlight this crucial issue, explore potential areas of reform, and inform my office for future investigations into allegations of inadequate mental health treatment.”
Across the state, New York communities are struggling to access mental health care facilities, which has only been made more difficult amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the pandemic began, approximately 400 inpatient psychiatric beds have been eliminated, converted to COVID-related or general medical use, or have been completely taken out of commission. This year, it is estimated that there are less than 5,000 adult short-term inpatient psychiatric beds in hospitals across the state. According to ProPublica, New York has just 274 psychiatric beds for children and adolescents. The lack of access to inpatient psychiatric care leads to increased homelessness, incarceration, and more frequent hospital visits. As COVID-related hospital visits decline, emergency departments are overwhelmed by individuals who require more intensive psychiatric services but are unable to access necessary psychiatric inpatient beds or services in the community, which can exacerbate their illness.
Attorney General James is seeking insight from patients, families, providers, advocacy organizations, and public officials regarding problems that people in mental health crises or with chronic severe mental illness are having in accessing mental health services, including inpatient beds and emergency treatment. Using information obtained through the testimonies, Attorney General James seeks to find legislative and enforcement solutions to combat this crisis impacting New York communities.
The hearing will be held at One Chase Manhattan Plaza, 28 Liberty Street, New York, NY, 10005. Oral testimony for the video hearing will be subject to scheduling constraints. Individuals who wish to provide oral testimony at the hearing must submit their testimony in writing by 12 PM on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Testimony may be submitted at: ag.ny.gov/mental-health-
The hearing will be viewable to the public at: ag.ny.gov/livestream.