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Stony Brook University to Help Expand Mental Health Services for Youth

Hochul sos22 featured

Governor Hochul Announces $3.3M in Federal Grants to Providers Across the State

Hochul sos22 featuredNew York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced more than $3.3 million to community-based healthcare providers that will increase access to mental health services for children and families, including $250,000 to Stony Brook University to provide training that will help mental health care providers better serve dually diagnosed people who are living with mental illness and a developmental disability.

Administered through the state Office of Mental Health, the federal funding is aimed at helping community-based service providers, including seven on Long Island, better serve children and youth who are dually diagnosed with mental illness and a developmental disability or substance use disorder.

“Access to mental health programs is a critical component of our efforts to ensure New Yorkers receive the care they need for themselves and their loved ones,” Governor Hochul said in the November 18 announcement. “Too often, vulnerable populations face barriers in their ability to access mental health services, and these grants will help expand access to statewide programs, helping support more young New Yorkers to properly address their mental health needs.”

The grants are funded through the American Rescue Plan Act and time-limited expansion of the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage share of funds for Medicaid programs. Community-based healthcare providers were invited to propose innovative projects to meet the needs of the children and families they serve.

Training provided at Stony Brook will include increasing awareness of evidence-based approaches and skills to better engage and treat dually diagnosed youth and families.

“Governor Hochul’s allocation of mental health funding to support provider training is a critical and greatly needed step forward in ensuring those diagnosed with mental illness and a developmental disability have access to the care they deserve,” said Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis. “People with disabilities may often encounter challenges when seeking out effective and accessible mental health care, but with increased training that allows clinicians to partner closely with patients and family members, it brings specialized, effective treatment options to those who need it.”

The grant recipient at Stony Brook is Matthew D. Lerner, associate professor of psychology, psychiatry and pediatrics in the Department of Psychology, research director of the Stony Brook Autism Initiative, and co-director of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Center. The Co-PIs are Lauren Moskowitz (associate professor of psychology, St. John’s University) and Rebecca Sachs (private practice).

Lerner said the project — administered in collaboration with the Stony Brook School of Professional Development — is unique in its focus on helping existing state-licensed mental health practitioners throughout New York who might otherwise not offer treatment to youth with autism and other developmental disabilities to develop their confidence and skills in doing so. It is also unique in its integration of the lived experience of autistic adults as part of the training model.

“The long-term impact of the COVID crisis on our mental health will be significant, especially for young people who encountered significant challenges of fear, isolation, anxiety, and depression throughout the pandemic. It’s imperative that we provide sufficient resources to address this shadow epidemic in order for the next generation to truly thrive and succeed,” said State University of New York Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley. “We applaud Stony Brook University for not only helping students, but also providing these critical services to the broader community at a time when it is needed most.”

The awards include more than $1 million divided among 35 not-for-profit community-based programs that operate under contracts with the Office of Mental Health or are funded by the agency or county mental health departments with local funds or state aid. These awards will support expanding suicide prevention initiatives, respite programs, family and youth peer support services and children’s non-Medicaid managed care programs.

Another $760,000 was divided among 19 community-based providers to support efforts to establish mechanisms to increase engagement and reduce the reliance on emergency services for transportation. Funded projects include the purchase of MetroCards to help remove transportation barriers for people receiving services, and expansion and enhancement of High-Risk Outpatient Mental Health Services.

The awards also include $760,000 that was split among 19 programs to establish or enhance service coordination and multidisciplinary teams. Funded projects include implementation of an electronic data collection system and the creation of a Multi-Disciplinary Team meeting coordinator and facilitator for a provider’s Children’s Mental Health Rehabilitative Services Program.

Another $280,000 was split between seven programs aimed at expanding services for co-occurring treatment, for patients who are living with mental illness as well as a developmental disability or substance use disorder. Funded projects include addition of a clinician for dually diagnosed adolescents, providing staff training in medication-assisted treatment and trauma-based cognitive behavior therapy and implementation of an evidence-based treatment model for adolescents and young adults designed to decrease harmful substance use and improve mental health.

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