Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Mental health care

Mental health care

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    Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center (photo: omh.ny.gov)


    State-run psychiatric hospitals have been engulfed by this winter's coronavirus surge, casting one of the most vulnerable populations back into the pandemic's path and miring the state agency responsible for them.

    Confirmed covid cases among patients and staff living and working in the state's 24 inpatient psychiatric centers have been ticking up for the last several weeks before jumping significantly more recently, mirroring the trend around the state.

    In less than two weeks, from December 20 to January 2, the

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  • (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Helping children through a pandemic (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The Surgeon General’s rare public advisory made official what we as social workers have known for 22 months – that the pandemic has accelerated a mental health crisis for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and

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    Mental health first responders via B-HEARD


    Last week, the New York City Council voted to amend the City Charter to establish the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health as a permanent part of our city government. The vote comes at a critical time – as New Yorkers continue to feel the long-lasting mental health consequences of the pandemic.

    The vote is also the culmination of years of work. In the wake of decades of state and federal neglect that left too many people without the mental healthcare they need, New York City became

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    Council Member Diana Ayala (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)


    The New York City Council Speaker should be someone who deeply understands people’s struggles and will take a social services focus to the powerful leadership position, argues City Council Member Diana Ayala.

    During a recent appearance on the Max Politics podcast from Gotham Gazette, Ayala discussed her experience representing the 8th Council District, which includes East Harlem and

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    City Council Member Diana Ayala (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)


    November 24, 2021 - Max Politics Podcast: City Council Member Diana Ayala on Mental Health Oversight, Running for Speaker, & More

    City Council Member Diana Ayala joined the show to discuss her work in the City Council, especially on mental health policy oversight, her run for City Council Speaker, and more.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter @TweetBenMax. You can listen to the

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    New York City (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    In Southern California, three generations of a family gathered their separate households under one roof to weather the pandemic -- and liked it so much they decided to make it permanent. On the Upper West Side of Manhattan, students organized to buy groceries and essentials for the housebound. And as the virus surged, a nationwide ...

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    High school students (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office)


    This month, as our children return for another pandemic school year, there has never been a more important time to have an honest conversation about mental health. 

    As a member of the New York Assembly Committee on Education, I have heard from countless parents and young people about how the pandemic has exacerbated the pre-existing psychological strains of depression and anxiety. These come on top of the pressures youth have faced for years, from navigating identity issues

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    Students at school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Young people are often uncomfortable asking for help. Now imagine there is a language barrier as well. Children, teens, and young adults are currently battling social isolation, loneliness, and mental illness in increasing numbers, and the language barrier greatly exacerbates this for Spanish-speaking youth and their families. 

    Access to mental health services has traditionally been lower for this community. More than half of Hispanic young

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  • Gotham Gazette: Amid rising overdoses, mental health and harm reduction support is more important

    The Mayor at an overdose prevention event (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    I know what it’s like to be on the front lines of an infectious disease. I launched my career in harm reduction in the 1980s, at the height of the HIV epidemic. Just like with HIV, the fallout from COVID-19 is not limited to the lives we’ve lost to the infection itself—there are ripple effects that will be felt long after our city fully re-opens.

    This time, it’s the twin tragedy of the

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    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The New York State Office of Mental Health quietly issued guidance in April allowing psychiatric centers to vaccinate patients for COVID-19 over patient objections and without a court order in a unusual break from treatment protocols. The policy makes psychiatric patients in state custody one of the only adult populations in New York subject to forcible vaccination.

    The guidance, issued April 22, is a "clarification" giving hospital staff discretion to administer the vaccine without consent, an

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    The CUNY Chancellor and students (photo: @CUNY)


    Graduating when the pandemic first hit New York City was hard for many students. To say that having access to a counselor during a time of increasing uncertainty and hopelessness was beneficial is an understatement - it was many students' lifeline. However, for countless students and peers, they are not so fortunate.

    The effect of the last year on CUNY students can not be overstated. In a recent ...

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    Emergency (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    To the editor:

    Last week, I joined the final day of training for the new teams who will soon begin responding to 911 mental health calls in East Harlem and Harlem. Through this pilot program - the Behavioral Emergency Response Assistance Division or B-HEARD - mental health professionals will be part of 911 response for the first time in New York City history. It's part of our commitment as a city to treat mental health crises as issues of public health, not public

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    Emergency response (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office)


    Last month, Mayor de Blasio unveiled his Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2022, which included a $112 million line item to expand his mental health teams pilot, yet to get off the ground, citywide. Minimizing the role police officers play in responding to

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    A state psychiatric hospital (photo: Office of Mental Health)


    As New York State hospitals began to fear the worst last spring -- that the pace of the coronavirus would overtake their ability to discharge patients and clear beds -- they had to decide what to do with people being admitted for acute psychiatric care.

    In the second week of March 2020, only 325 New Yorkers had tested positive for COVID-19 but images from abroad and the pace of infection outlined a worrying forecast. By the end of the week, New York would confirm its first casualty from a virus

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    Kingsboro Psychiatric Center (photo: New York State Office of Mental Health)


    One-fifth of patients in state-run inpatient psychiatric centers have contracted COVID-19 since the outbreak began last March, and 58 out of a total 8,200 individuals admitted to those institutions have died, according to new data provided by the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) after a Gotham Gazette inquiry. The facilities embody one of several types of congregate living settings where residents are more vulnerable to the virus, and while they have smaller populations and

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    Mental health care workers (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    The holidays can be an emotionally-charged time and bring up mixed feelings that may include stress, grief, and loneliness and also feelings of joy, gratitude, and hope for the new year, sometimes all at the same time.   

    But this year is filled with new challenges — so many New Yorkers have experienced significant losses and will celebrate the holidays differently than in past years. Health care providers and other essential workers have been on the front lines of a global

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    Top (l-r): Loree Sutton, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Carlos Menchaca, Eric Adams
    Bottom (l-r): Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer, Joycelyn Taylor, Maya Wiley, Zach Iscol


    The NYPD’s involvement when responding to mental health crises took center stage at a forum featuring ten of the 2021 Democratic mayoral candidates Thursday night.

    The event, which was hosted by Citizen Action of New York, a grassroots nonprofit advocacy group, and a consortium it is part of that seeks to reform mental health and other

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    Students back in school amid a pandemic (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound effects for children across New York City and State, as well as their families, like the loss of a loved one, economic distress, food insecurity, and the shutdown of school buildings, switch to remote learning, and lack of in-person social connections.

    During the first five months of the pandemic, an estimated 4,200 of 4 million children in the state lost a parent or caregiver to coronavirus, a rate of more than one out of every 1,000, according to a

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    Honoring health care heroes (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Roars of applause, cheers, and clanging of pots and pans – the familiar 7 p.m. signal in New York for many bleak early spring days of 2020 quickly became a daily ritual in fervent support of health-care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. While most watched the wave of infections unfold through the media from the safe havens of their homes, health-care workers went to work hoping, praying, and questioning the chance of infection and survival for themselves, their families, and their

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    NYPD response (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office)


    The police must stop killing people of color. The police must stop killing people experiencing mental health crises. The police must stop killing people of color experiencing mental health crises. And the police must stop the cover-ups. 

    Daniel Prude, a Black man experiencing a mental health crisis, should never have been asphyxiated in the middle of the street on a snowy night, naked, begging and praying for help, held down and “hooded” with a bag over his head by seven Rochester police officers.

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    Health care by video has increased in importance (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)


    When we first met Alice two years ago, she suffered from schizophrenia, depression, uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Even though we set up pill boxes for her and arranged home health aides, she chose to seek treatment only in emergency rooms. Her health continued to deteriorate. 

    Last year, Alice finally began to engage in treatment for her diabetes by phone, but her nurse practitioner provided this treatment on her own time, without government funding. Alice’s

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  • police shooting

    Questioning one role of the NYPD (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    The protests that have erupted across American cities in response to the murder of George Floyd, together with the larger movement for Black lives, have amplified advocates’ calls to defund the police and reallocate resources toward services that would better meet the needs of Black Americans and over-policed communities nationwide. 

    New York City’s police budget alone surpasses its spending on housing, hospitals, youth services, and homeless services combined. In response to public outcry,

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  • kingsboro

    Kingsboro Psychiatric Center (photo: New York State Office of Mental Health)


    The death toll from the novel coronavirus at state psychiatric facilities is rising, according to what scant official figures are available, hinting at a nightmare unfolding inside some of New York's least visible institutions. In just over a week, the number of residents confirmed to have died from the virus has tripled, according to data provided by the state Office of Mental Health (OMH), which runs the 23 centers.

    Thirty residents are dead and another seven are suspected to have died

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  • hospital pano

    Manhattan Psychiatric Center, Wards Island (photo: @nicknormal via Flickr)


    Ten people have died of coronavirus and another 193 have tested positive among the nearly 3,500 residents living in state-run inpatient psychiatric facilities, according to officials, making them one of the hardest hit institutional settings per capita in New York State. Another 283 staff that work at the state's 23 centers have tested positive for COVID-19, which has killed well over 13,000 people across the state.

    After inquiries, the information was provided to Gotham Gazette on

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    (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    As the coronavirus outbreak causes more and more health, social, and economic damage, many New Yorkers need help. Below is a guide to some available resources (please let us know if there’s something we should add).

    For updates from New York City about the pandemic, you can text the word “COVID” to 692-692, or “COVIDESP” to 692-692 for the same notifications in Spanish. 

    Unemployment Insurance
    If you lost your job due to the coronavirus outbreak and its fallout,

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