September 26, 2023
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Announces Multi-Agency Collaboration to Raise School-Age Youth Mental Health Awareness

Governor Hochul Announces Multi-Agency Collaboration to Raise School-Age Youth Mental Health Awareness

Office of Mental Health and Education Department Partner with State Public Media to Provide Educators with Resources to Support Student Mental Health

Multi-Media Toolkit Released During Suicide Prevention Month; Complements Governor’s Initiatives to Address the Youth Mental Health Crisis in New York

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a multi-agency collaboration with New York PBS stations to equip prekindergarten-grade 12 educators with resources and strategies they can rely on to support the mental well-being of their students. Produced by The WNET Group with assistance from the state Office of Mental Health and the State Education, Student Mental Health Matters: A Toolkit for Educators is available free online and provides more than 50 digital videos addressing topics specific to youth mental health.

“New York educators are at the forefront of our efforts to address the youth mental health crisis in our state,” Governor Hochul said. “This unique partnership between public broadcasting and New York State will provide them with resources and strategies they can use to help address student mental health issues they see arising at schools and in classrooms across our state.”

Launched in recognition of Suicide Prevention Month in New York State and World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10, the toolkit is designed to equip educators, school staff and school-based mental health professionals with critical knowledge and strategies needed to support the mental well-being of their students. The toolkit was developed by The WNET Group –the nonprofit parent company of New York’s flagship station THIRTEEN –with support from the state Office of Mental Health and the State Education Department, in addition to the Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network, the National Center for School Mental Health, the Child Mind Institute, and other public media stations.

The toolkit focuses on five distinct topics that primary and secondary educators often encounter among students: suicide prevention, stress and anxiety, self-harm, adverse childhood experiences, and social media. Each topic includes short videos providing expert perspectives from mental health professionals, school administrators and educators aimed at helping teachers better understand these challenges; student perspectives revealing the lived experience of students; and strategies providing real-world applications for teachers’ practices.

The toolkit is available free of charge to all educators in New York through PBS LearningMedia, which offers educators access to resources from PBS stations and their partners. Nearly 70,000 educators throughout New York State access these resources each month to complement classroom instruction.

Governor Hochul included funding for the toolkit as part of the FY 2023 budget. The $300,000 addition was earmarked to develop the education resource in consultation with OMH to improve student mental health through trauma informed care, therapeutic crisis interventions and suicide prevention.

New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “There is a clear connection between addressing mental health challenges in our children today and improving their mental well-being later in life. By providing educators with resources to identify these challenges, we can help them develop strategies to support their students and if needed, to connect them with other mental health assistance. This partnership between New York State and public broadcasting complements Governor Hochul’s continued efforts to address youth mental health in New York State.”

New York State Education Department Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “We must work together to make mental health resources more readily available and accessible for all of New York’s students. Mental health issues are directly connected to students’ ability to have the emotional resilience and stability needed to navigate the challenges of learning and personal growth effectively. Under Governor Hochul’s leadership and in collaboration with our partner agencies, we can keep this issue at the forefront and provide our educators with the tools necessary to address the mental health challenges our students are confronting.”

New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said, "Educators play an important role in supporting your students' mental health. They ensure that schools and classrooms are safe and supportive learning environments that promote student well-being. This partnership and free online Toolkit are an innovative way to support student mental health and help them succeed both in and out of the classroom."

The WNET Group President & Chief Executive Officer Neal Shapiro said, "We recognize the importance of helping educators address these critical mental health issues our students are experiencing, and we are pleased to work with Governor Hochul, the Office of Mental Health and the State Education Department to develop free resources educators can use. The comprehensive toolkit we created provides more than 50 video-based resources and support materials including documentary and classroom footage, panel discussions and student voices. Along with New York public media stations across the state, we'll also be broadcasting a week of special programming and news coverage highlighting local community resources to raise mental health awareness."

Governor Hochul has made youth mental health a focus of her administration and included it as an important component of her landmark $1 billion plan to overhaul New York State’s mental healthcare system. In the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget adopted in May, she secured $30 million to expand mental health services for school-aged children throughout the state, including $20 million for school-based mental health services and $10 million to implement wraparound services training.

The Budget also closes gaps in insurance coverage that have posed a barrier to New Yorkers needing mental health care and substance use disorder services. Among several critical changes, commercial insurance plans will be required to cover services provided in school-based mental health clinics.

Governor Hochul also hosted a Listening Tour on Youth Mental Health and the first-ever Summit on Youth Mental Health, which gathered state and national experts alongside service providers and stakeholders to examine the unprecedented challenges many young people are facing today. Among the recommendations arising from the tour and summit was to invest in community-based resources for mental wellness promotion and to increase free or low-cost mental health resources.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control released its Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which found alarming mental health trends among school-aged youth between 2011 and 2021 – especially among teen girls. Nearly a third of teen girls seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021, an increase from 19 percent the prior decade; about three in five felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, which was twice the rate of teen boys and represents a nearly 60 percent increase over the rate recorded in 2011.

The report also found that youth from marginalized populations are more likely to suffer mental health issues: More than half of LGBTQ+ students expressed having poor mental health, with one in five reporting having attempted suicide in the past year. Suicide attempts were also elevated among Black youth when compared to White youth, according to the report.

About The WNET Group
The WNET Group creates inspiring media content and meaningful experiences for diverse audiences nationwide. It is the community-supported home of New York’s THIRTEEN – America’s flagship PBS station – WLIW21, THIRTEEN PBSKids, WLIW World and Create; NJ PBS, New Jersey’s statewide public television network; Long Island’s only NPR station WLIW-FM; ALL ARTS, the arts and culture media provider; newsroom NJ Spotlight News; and FAST channel PBS Nature. Through these channels and streaming platforms, The WNET Group brings arts, culture, education, news, documentary, entertainment and DIY programming to more than 5 million viewers each month.

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