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OPINION: On Mental Wellness, Patients & Providers Need Our Support

By Will Barclay

Date:

As New York State budget negotiations begin to take a more concrete shape, it becomes even more important to keep pushing to support policy initiatives that can do the most for New Yorkers. [Now that we have closed] out Mental Wellness Month, which was in January, I want to reiterate that adequate resources for our mental-health care facilities, human-services workers, and resources dedicated to fighting the state’s ongoing opioid crisis are critical to strengthening New York from top to bottom.

Mental hygiene impacts every segment of our lives. From education to the economy and our criminal-justice system, better mental-health services create happier, more effective, and safer New Yorkers. I was pleased the executive-budget proposal highlighted these services. Specifically, a planned $5 million to support recovery community centers, funding adjustments for rising costs at residential-housing units, and additional funding for employment access are all a great start. But now, we must find a way to make these proposals reality.

Mental-health services have been a priority for the Assembly Minority Conference for several years. We have made great strides understanding and addressing some of these challenges in two of our major task-force initiatives dealing with school safety and veterans, and we are eager to build on that momentum in the coming weeks. 

There are also lots of other great ways we can all recognize Mental Wellness Month, including awareness initiatives like the Little Things Mental Health Campaign, which aims to “highlight little things an individual can do to improve their mental health, including keeping active, talking about problems, drinking less alcohol, and eating and sleeping well.” Like most problems, taking small steps can lead to bigger, more meaningful changes later.

We can all benefit from better mental hygiene and a stronger commitment from the state to support adequate mental-health services. I remain hopeful the final iteration of next year’s budget includes the much-needed funding boosts proposed, and I look forward to working with the governor and my legislative colleagues to deliver a spending package that prioritizes the needs of all New Yorkers — especially those struggling with their mental health.         


William (Will) A. Barclay, 55, Republican, is the New York Assembly minority leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses all of Oswego County, as well as parts of Jefferson and Cayuga counties.

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