Hundreds marched in Albany Tuesday to advocate for New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities, pressing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators to increase funding for community housing and mental health services.
Advocates are pushing for Cuomo to include funding increases for mental health services in this year’s budget, including a one-time allocation of $92.9 million to the New York State Office of Mental Health.
Toni Lasicki, executive director of the Association for Communal Living, said the agency’s housing programs have experienced up to 40 percent in cuts since 1990 because the budget has not increased to match inflation. Lasicki said that without proper housing, people with mental health issues could not recover.
Glenn Liebman, executive director of the Mental Health Association of New York, agrees that funding for mental health services has remained stagnant while demands have risen, putting providers in a tough situation.
“Without funding increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to offer even current levels of service, to retain and recruit quality staff,” he said.
Liebman asked that legislators increase the rate of funding to adjust for the rising cost of living.
Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, said there has never been a better time for funding increases for mental health services. He cites the state’s recent $3.2 billion settlement with Morgan Stanley that could be used to help increase funds for mental health services, which he said were in a “state of crisis.”
Wendy Burch, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York State, said increased funding for communal housing and mental health services would mean less people in state hospitals, jails and prisons.
Hundreds marching outside the Capitol Tuesday afternoon shared her sentiment, chanting “Help us, don’t arrest us.”