Hochul Bolsters Stance on Improving Youth Mental Health Hochul Bolsters Stance on Improving Youth Mental Health

ALBANY, N.Y. (NCC News)– Tuesday morning, Gov. Kathy Hochul bolstered her commitment to combating the youth mental health crisis that has plagued state, as well as the nation, since 2020.

New York Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, and NYSUT president Melinda Person were all in attendance for the governor’s press conference where she slammed social media and the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic as the root causes for declining youth mental health. According to Mental Health America, 16.39% of children in the U.S., aged 12-17, reported at least one major depressive episode in 2023.

“There is an epidemic of suffering,” said Hochul in her opening remarks. “Our young people are grappling with feelings of depression, anxiety, a deep sadness that never seems to dissipate. Many of them, shockingly, have even contemplated taking their own lives.”

Hochul referenced her mental health plan, which dedicates a historic $1 billion for youth community treatment centers, youth suicide treatment centers, and other preventative measures to battle the youth mental health crisis. The plan also calls for equipping each school in New York state with a mental health clinic, where students can receive therapy and other services.

One student, Mekka Vasquez from Mohonasen High School in Schenectady, was in attendance and spoke about the mental health clinic that her school has implemented through this plan.

“If we — me and my peers — don’t have spaces to talk about our feelings, it’s so much harder to deal with them,” said Vasquez. “I’m glad that more students at my school and all across the state are able to get this kind of help.”

In addition to mental health, Hochul said she plans to make efforts to protect young people’s privacy online, namely from entities that collect personal data. The plan also hopes to ensure that social media platforms are used for good and not trap the youth with harmful algorithms.

“My philosophy has always been, we nip these problems now and we can avoid a lifetime of students needing help later,” said Hochul.

“That’s why right now matters.”

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