May 24, 2024
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Meets with High School Students to Discuss Mental Health and Efforts to Address Harmful Impacts of Social Media

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Meets with High School Students to Discuss Mental Health and Efforts to Address Harmful Impacts of Social Media

Governor Hochul: “We talked about how some of the students have the discipline to set social media aside during the school day. Others, there's just a pull that's constantly there. And it's something that we've been talking about — this epidemic of suffering — throughout this particular age group and younger, and especially girls.”

Hochul: “A lot of concerned parents and educators talked about some legislation that we can adopt to make sure that we can address this. And so, I wanted to hear from these students directly about the positive effects, the negative effects and what they'd actually recommend for younger siblings and young people starting out. So, I'm taking those ideas back to our Legislature to continue working to pass legislation over the next couple of weeks. I think we can get these bills passed that'll help complement my efforts to deal with the rise in mental health challenges.”

Governor Kathy Hochul today hosted a roundtable with students from Williamsville East High School in Erie County to discuss the youth mental health crisis and the challenges posed by unhealthy and excessive social media use. The Governor reiterated her commitment to enacting nation-leading legislation addressing online safety and the harmful impacts of social media in the final weeks of the 2024 State Legislative Session.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

So, we just had a wonderful conversation with these really engaging students here at Williamsville East. And I want to thank the leadership here, the principal and our superintendent and those who allowed me to do what I've been doing all over the State for the last year and a half as we talk to young people, particularly high school students, about what they've experienced since the pandemic.

Number one — the isolation, how it turned their lives upside down. And, you know, these were classes that four years ago, were just starting off. You're still in middle school or starting off in high school, and it's had a profound effect on them.

And we think about the confluence of that with the fact that there's been a rise in the use of social media — not social media that provides support for students and connects them to student groups and a lot of positive effects — but how the social media companies have bombarded students with algorithms, which are very, very addictive.

And it's hard to break away from this. And so, we talked about how some of the students have the discipline to, you know, set it aside during the school day. Others, there's just a pull that's constantly there. And it's something that we've been talking about — this epidemic of suffering — throughout this particular age group and younger, and especially girls. In the statistics related to the number of girls who've contemplated suicide, self-poisoning among 10- to 12-year-old girls has quadrupled.

Hospital admissions is way up. Major depression episodes for 12- to 17-year-olds has increased 52 percent. Suicide among 12- to 14-year-olds has doubled. So, there is a linkage that we're trying to deal with at the state legislative level because many of us are parents or we have nieces and nephews and we're seeing them struggle with this.

So, last year I was joined with Attorney General Letitia James and Senator Gounardes and Assemblymember Nily Rozic, and a lot of concerned parents and educators talked about some legislation that we can adopt to make sure that we can address this. And so, I wanted to just hear from these students directly about, you know, the positive effects, the negative effects and what it's doing and what they'd actually recommend for younger siblings and young people starting out.

Would they have the same access and dependency on social media if they could avoid it? So, really, really thoughtful conversation. I'm taking those ideas back to our Legislature to continue working to pass legislation over the next couple of weeks. There are just a few days left before it's all finished.

And so, I think we can get these bills passed that'll help complement my efforts to deal with the rise in mental health challenges. $1 billion of investment that we deal with as far as providing support for young people with eating disorders and youth community treatment teams. $10 million to address youth suicide. We opened up 137 more school-based mental health clinics. And a lot of schools like this one do have them already. They have counselors and therapists on site ready to take care of people.

But I want to make sure that we have more across the State so any young person who is dealing with mental health challenges or depression or just, you know, anxiety, has someone who can help them literally in their classroom and that's what I as a parent and as the Governor of the State of New York is very much focused on.

So, we want to work on legislation that will also control these addictive algorithms. I don't think also these social media platforms should be able to capture young people's personal information and profit off of it, which is exactly what's going on. So, these are some of the issues we're working on and looking forward to getting it over the finish line.

So, that's what I'll do. Alright, thank you. Great to see everybody. Good luck to you.

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