Governor Hochul: "Go into the world and do well, but more importantly, go into the world and do good. We will go forth from here today, champions for our young people, true believers in better days and better outcomes for them, and the belief that nothing is impossible when compassionate, smart people like we have gathered here are committed to doing something about it. So that is our quest, a quest that begins here today."
Hochul: "[W]hether you're a parent, a policy maker, an educator, a mental health expert, an activist, I just want to say thank you We're narrowing down the focus, and that's why having the leading minds on the issue come here and give their best approach, their ideas for solution. This is going to push the envelope even further. We're going to challenge conventional wisdom out there."
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered closing remarks at the first-ever Summit on Youth Mental Health.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Thank you. Thank you very much everyone. Wow. Wow. Are we feeling energized? Feeling the power, the ability to make a change today that's going to be felt for generations? That's what I'm talking about. First of all, I want to thank so many people, all of the people who've been participating today. Kalani, thank you for being the youth speaker who reminded us that there's people like you out there in the trenches trying to lift our kids up. Let's give our last speaker a round of applause.
Kathryn Garcia is doing an extraordinary job as the Director of State Operations handles every crisis including this one. Let's give her a round of applause. My Chief of Staff, Stacy Lynch, has joined us. Also Dr. Sullivan, I see you moved to the front row. That's great to see you in the front row. And Suzanne Miles-Gustave, the Office of Children and Family Services.
Kalani, I had a chance to hear what you were saying, and it was powerful and your willingness to come here and share your experiences and have you talk about mental health and social media in such a smart, thoughtful way. It really gives me hope and it reinforces my belief that we can fix this complex and difficult problem. First of all, young voices today really help shape the conversation here. As I mentioned, we did the listening tours with young people all across the State, but to have their voices here today, they'll be at the forefront as we devise new policies. And to all of you, the over 1,000 people who came here in person to show your commitment, whether you're a parent, a policy maker, an educator, a mental health expert, an activist, I just want to say thank you.
Thank you for answering the call, because you would not be here if at your core you didn't want to make a difference, that you didn't care about other people. So, you are set apart. You showed up and I thank you and I never will take that for granted. You know, today is - when you distill it down, what you've listened to, it's real simple. It's how you solve a problem. I say, first of all, you gather, we have gathered, you discuss, we've certainly discussed. And then number three, we act. And I asked every single person up here to come up with one to three actionable items, and maybe there's some duplication, but that means we're on the right path.
We're narrowing down the focus, and that's why having the leading minds on the issue come here and give their best approach, their ideas for solution. This is going to push the envelope even further. We're going to challenge conventional wisdom out there. Again, "This way is how we do it, because we've always done it that way," has never worked for me, doesn't work today. And let's transform our approach. Let's think beyond where we are today. We have to transform our approach to dealing with the youth of our communities and the challenges they face.
So, we're going to define very specifically what policies can be implemented. And as we've seen a lot of talk about social media, they're just optimized for making money but not making a difference. And you think if you can harness the power that they have, the ability to influence people and turn it in a positive way? My gosh, this next generation of kids will be on fire. They'll enter adulthood with this passion, this desire to make changes and believe the power that's within them to step forth and leave this place better than they found it. That's the power of social media that I want to unleash. I think it can be a force for good, but they're not doing it on their own, my friends, and let's move that along quickly because we cannot lose another young person to the influences and the stress that makes them feel they're unworthy to even take another breath on this planet. That's the urgency with which I approach this. So, we're going to promote strong policies here in New York, but we'll push the federal government as well.
I don't want to just solve this for New York kids. No. As I mentioned, the movements of our time and before us, what New York is known for. We can be that national leader, but also say to Washington, give us a hand here. These are all our kids. So, I want to care about the kids in Texas and Florida and other states who are feeling under siege right now. Let's care about all of them and give them a better outlook of life. Let's make there be federal policies that gives communities across this great country hope, and that's what I want to do. We should be looking at data privacy for kids. Don't be preying on our kids. You're not allowed to do it on a street, you shouldn't be able to do it masked behind social media. Let's stop preying on our kids.
And social media training in schools. You heard about how important that is because again, just half a generation ago, teachers didn't know about this, parents didn't know about this, and now it's so pervasive that we use the best place to educate and change people's hearts and minds, and that is our schools. It's sitting right there. That's where the kids are spending most of their day. And so, Kalani, who you just heard from, she offered some really good ideas on this. I believe that if we catch our kids from falling while they're still young, give them the mental health they need to support the positive image, we can catch them while they're still young and stop them from falling down. We can save them an entire lifetime of struggles. That's why our efforts today matter so much in real time.
But it's not just our kids who need training. We heard about this. Adults struggle from unhealthy social media influences as well, and that can trickle down to our kids. So, raising public awareness in all the ways we know how - we might even use social media. They should do some PSAs for us, don't you think? Everybody should. I think we're owed that. I think we're owed that. I don't know if they still call it that. They still call them Public Service Announcements? I don't know if it's called something different. But we can raise awareness, number one. And we also need to make sure that when our kids are asking for help, they're responded to by someone who maybe had the same kind of life experiences, that looks like them, talks like them, has some commonality because it's hard to reach these kids.
Oh, I still have teenage nieces and nephews. They can give you that blank look. Right? Like tune you out. And how do you penetrate that? But someone who's a professional who can say, "You know what, hey, I had the same thing going on when I was younger. I was uncertain about my identity. I didn't feel comfortable because my parents, they had accents, they sounded different from other people. My parents want me to dress different than the other kids because that was culturally what was right. We need to have people who can help our kids, who can understand their life experiences as well. That's how we go to the next level, in my opinion.
And so that trust is needed. They can feel that trust with someone that they may not feel right now. So, we will bring more diversity into the ranks. We will. We'll just commit to doing that right here, right now. Let people see this is a path on a journey of life, which many of you are on, which is all about helping other people. But what a profound difference they can make if we recruit people from diverse backgrounds and we say, "Kids need you right now."
So, we'll make that commitment. So, if you're from the LGBTQ+ community, the black community, the Latino community, there should be professionals embedded in those communities to help them. Let's make that be our goal.
And I want to make sure that New York State becomes a national leader on research, on social media and the impact on our children. We can empower the many institutions represented here, academia, the thought leaders, let's bring it together and make us a leader for all the other states that are not as enlightened. They are not taking these steps. Who are just ignoring the problem and perhaps the adverse impact of their policies on kids. And once again, I'll say, kids in Florida and Texas in particular. So, let's just help all of them. Let us be that place, that incubator of good ideas, new ideas, controversial ideas. That's alright.
And then we'll help drive this across the country, but let's have this as our takeaway. The best thing we can do is be listening to our kids because answers lie within them. Those who want to be the peer counselors, they've seen it all, they've heard it all. How do we replicate that over and over and over again?
So, there's thousands of peer counselors who are trained. What a difference something like that can make. Just put thousands of them throughout our State and they're the ones that the kids will go to in the locker room or at the cafeteria and just talk about it. They'll see the signs in their face. That's what we can do.
I'm also going to be asking the Governor's Youth Council to make recommendations themselves. So, this continues on beyond today. And make sure that every single thing we do, the decisions we make, will guarantee a positive outcome on our kids.
So, there are some incredible, incredible organizations represented here. I say that collectively we can come up with a comprehensive youth mental health plan that is actionable, and we will be unveiling that with your input here today and beyond in the next few months, we'll explore all the legislative options available to us at the State level, and we will be creative.
And also, on top of our $1 billion of investment in mental health overall, we're going to continue to urge other states to follow our lead. Other states should be making those same kinds of investments. So, I'm going to say one more thing. We're going to do this. We have to first of all, believe in ourselves that I continue to reinforce the message that was taught to me as a child.
In fact, it was on our refrigerator growing up. My mother had this saying that now is on her headstone today because she would want her grandkids to keep reading this message: Go into the world and do well, but more importantly, go into the world and do good. We will go forth from here today, champions for our young people, true believers in better days and better outcomes for them, and the belief that nothing is impossible when compassionate, smart people like we have gathered here are committed to doing something about it.
So that is our quest, a quest that begins here today. One that will go on as long as I have a breath in my body because I am that committed to making sure that the suffering that our kids are going through today, that they'll be the last generation, the last generation to feel the weight of life so heavily that they even entertain taking their own lives themselves. This is where it ends, my friends, and you will look back and say, "I was there and made a difference." Thank you everybody. So grateful you were here today. Thank you.