THE NY SCHOOL-BASED HEALTH FOUNDATION'S STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR GOVERNOR HOCHUL’S COMMITMENT TO CHILD MENTAL HEALTH IN HER 2023 STATE-OF-THE-STATE ADDRESS
The New York School-Based Health Foundation applauds Governor Hochul’s commitment to increasing access to school-based mental health services in her State-of-the-State address delivered January 10, 2023.
The mental health needs of NY’s school children are skyrocketing, and school-based mental health services are critical to addressing them. Studies show that 70 percent of children who receive mental health services do so through their school (i). Another study shows that adolescents with access to SBHCs were ten times more likely to seek help than those without such access (ii).
The Governor’s commitment focuses particularly on SBHCs operated by mental health entities (licensed under Article 31 of the public health law). She should not overlook the remarkable resources of the State’s 266 school-based health centers (SBHCs) that are operated by health care organizations (licensed
under Article 28). New York’s SBHCs offer mental health services ranging from simple community referrals to full scale screening, mental health education, prevention, and individual and group therapy. These centers are large and small, urban and rural, upstate and downstate and provide access to some 250,000 school children. For many, SBHCs are the children’s only access to health care.
To fulfill this commitment, the Governor rightly focuses on a core problem limiting the availability of mental health today: fair and adequate Medicaid and private insurance payment for mental health services, including coverage for wraparound services and parity for telehealth services. Payment for mental health services has historically lagged that for medical services.
Not only are rates lower, but some of the most effective school-based mental health services are not reimbursed at all. These include classroom-based and school wide education, mental health screening and group therapy. SBHCs serve all children in the school, regardless of insurance or financial status, while only 60% are enrolled on Medicaid. Thus, they bear the cost of serving uninsured children alone.
To cover these and other gaps in payment, the State allocates grants totaling $17M to NYS’s 266 centers. In 2007 this grant was $24M, but years of successive cutbacks, not to mention the failure to address inflation, have eroded it, while the number of SBHCs has grown.
Investment in NY’s SBHCs is one of the most effective means of addressing school children’s physical and mental health. It has been shown to increase school attendance, improve grade promotion and graduation rates, improve chronic care management, reduce violence and family dysfunction, and decrease costly emergency room and inpatient hospital use. The impact of SBHCs lasts a lifetime.
The New York School-Based Health Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote, strengthen, and increase access to NY’s school-based health centers. It currently operates the statewide SBHC Hub and offers two technical assistance programs to strengthen the mental health services
delivered by NY’s SBHCs. It works hand-in-hand with the New York School-Based Alliance. For more information, see the Foundation’s website www.nysbhfoundation.org—or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
i.) Strozer J, Juszczak, L, Ammerman A. 2007-2008 National School-Based Health Care Census. Washington, DC: National Assembly on School-Based Health Care;
ii.) Kaplan D, Calonge B, Guernsey B, Hanrahan M. Managed Care and Schoolbased Health Centers: Use of Health Services. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 1998;152:25-33