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$195 Million Needed to Tackle Urgent Challenges Exacerbating Youth Behavioral Health Crisis

November 29, 2023

First-of-its kind study from the Campaign for Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids urges New York leaders to commit to targeted investments to address the workforce crisis forcing children and families onto years-long waitlists for life-saving behavioral health supports

The Problem

In New York, our health system doesn’t have the capacity to treat the skyrocketing number of kids desperately in need of mental health support. Right now, kids have to get really sick to get help, and that help is too often delivered in emergency rooms and hospitals, rather than through the ongoing, high quality services they need to stay healthy. Providing quality care to children – particularly those with complex needs – requires close collaboration between parents and physicians, care coordinators and social workers, therapists and insurers, and so many others. But New York hasn’t invested enough resources in the children’s behavioral health system to pay for the true cost of serving children or to provide high quality care to every child. As a result, providers across the state are facing severe workforce shortages, and families are left struggling to find urgently needed care. New York is at a breaking point. If we don’t act now, we risk raising another generation of children whose unmet mental health needs become deeper, more complex, and more difficult to treat as they become adults.

The Solution

The Campaign for Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids is urging New York leaders to invest $195 million in the next state budget to address severe reimbursement rate challenges that have undermined the health care system’s ability to meet the behavioral health needs of children in the state. Without this targeted investment in outpatient behavioral health services, the behavioral health workforce will continue to disappear, the capacity to care for children will continue to shrink, and New York’s children will sit on longer waitlists or go entirely without needed services. The Campaign for Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids’ proposal is based on a first-of-its-kind study of statewide data on public health insurance rates for outpatient behavioral health services and developed with input from children’s behavioral health providers and impacted families across the state. If these reforms are enacted, New York’s outpatient mental health system could serve over 26,000 additional children. 

Following the study, HMHK identified several targeted recommendations that will bolster the children’s behavioral health system and address the urgent need for high-quality care by:

  • Adjusting outpatient rates to keep pace with inflation to help sustain the children’s behavioral health delivery system.
  • Enabling children’s clinic rates to reflect the complexity of serving children and families.
  • Increasing funding for home and community-based services (CFTSS/HCBS) to address the gap between anticipated volume and actual number of children served.
  • Increasing pay for providers who coordinate with a growing array of care managers.