Recommendations to Governor Hochul to Support 9-8-8 Initiative
The Honorable Kathleen C. Hochul, Governor
The State of New York
New York State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Hochul:
The undersigned organizations, representing a broad cross-section of mental health, substance use, suicide prevention, health, criminal legal, and children’s advocates, along with healthcare providers and faith leaders are writing you to congratulate and express our gratitude to you for advancing the requirements for the state to plan for and report on the steps that will be necessary for the establishment of an effective 9-8-8 call-system to replace 9-1-1 as the appropriate number to use for someone experiencing a mental health crisis.
While we celebrate that New York has advanced the 9-8-8 initiative, we want to implore you and legislative leaders as you continue to negotiate 9-8-8’s implementation in the upcoming 2022 session that you include the following elements we agree to be necessary to 9-8-8’s success in New York State.
To be successful and truly aid those it intends to help, then 9-8-8 must be appropriately funded (and sustained) in order to provide 24 hour statewide coverage, seven days a week with all the services offered in-state with the ability to provide local resources in a linguistically and culturally competent manner. There also must be funding to accommodate an appropriate workforce to create the necessary capacity to meet this need.
Additionally, funding must be available to educate the public on the difference between 9-8-8 and 9-1-1. Finally, we want to the New York State Office of Mental Health to oversee 9-8-8’s operations.
Details of these recommendations can be found in NAMI-NYS’s recent report on the need for 9-8-8 and a Mental Healthcare Response system. These measures are long overdue as the criminalization of mental illness is one of the leading social justice issues of our time. New York’s jails and prisons are disproportionately populated by people with a mental illness who deserve treatment and recovery, not punishment. It is estimated that more than 60% of New York’s incarcerated population has either a diagnosable mental illness or substance use issue.
For far too many, entry into the criminal legal system began with them experiencing a mental health crisis and with a call to 9-1-1. As our system is currently configured, calls to 9-1-1 can be entry points down a road leading to punishment. This is especially true in communities of color, who are far less likely to have access to mental health care and far more likely to have a negative interaction with law enforcement. New York needs to create a divergent path that leads toward care and recovery; a fully-funded 9-8-8 is the gateway to this path to recovery.
As we continue to see surges in COVID-19, the need for mental health crisis services continues to grow. New York has an incredible opportunity to take a vital step in decriminalizing mental illness and establishing a mental healthcare response to a mental health crisis, but it is important to note that New York only has one opportunity to implement 9-8-8 and all the sweeping promises it holds, correctly. We urge you to make the most of this landmark opportunity and ensure that 9-8-8 is implemented correctly with sustainable funding.
New Yorkers deserve hope, healing and recovery, not punishment. New Yorkers deserve a fully funded and properly funded 9-8-8 system.
We thank you for your attention to this issue and look forward to working with you and the legislative leaders.to create a mentally healthier and just New York State.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
AFSP Greater Central NY
AFSP Hudson Valley
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Capital Region
Association for Community Living New York State
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany Catskills Addiction Coalition
Center For Community Alternatives Center for Community Alternatives Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY
Child Care Council of Westchester Chinese-American Family Alliance for Mental Health
Coalition of Medication Assisted Treatment Providers and Advocates (COMPA) Community Access, Inc.
Crisis Text Line
Decarcerate Tompkins County
Early Care & Learning Council
Epilepsy Foundation North Eastern New York
Families Together in New York State Friends of Recovery New York
Gateway Hudson Valley
Goodwill of the Finger Lakes
Hispanic Health Network
Latino Commission on AIDS
Legal Action Center
Living Hope for Mental Health
Long Island AFSP
Long Island Council of Churches
Long Island Social Justice Action Network Mental Health America
Mental Health America of New York State (MHANYS)
MHA in Chautauqua County
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) National Alliance on Mental Illness-New York State (NAMI-NYS)
NAMI Buffalo & Erie County
NAMI Capital Region
NAMI Cayuga County
NAMI Champlain Valley
NAMI Columbia County
NAMI Delaware & Otsego Counties NAMI Finger Lakes
NAMI Montgomery, Fulton & Hamilton Counties
NAMI New York City Metro
NAMI NYC Staten Island
NAMI Orange County
NAMI Putnam County
NAMI Sullivan County
NAMI Westchester County
National Action Network NYC Chapter Second Chance Committee
New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) New York City AFSP
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center
NYS Association of Counties
NYS Coalition for Children’s Behavioral Health
NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors
NYS Network for Youth Success, Inc. Policy Research Associates, Inc.
Prevent Child Abuse New York
Public Interest Resource Center, Fordham Law School
Race Talk Revolution,Inc.
Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University
Restoration Society Inc
Restore Our Community Coalition River Towns Civil Rights Network Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction The Coalition for Behavioral Health The Jed Foundation
The Kennedy Forum
The STARR Coalition
The Trevor Project
United Community Center of Westchester Uptown Progressive Action
Urban Justice Center
Urban Justice Center Mental Health Project Vibrant Emotional Health
Vocational Instruction Project Community Services, Inc.
Westchester Children’s Association Westchester Women’s Agenda
Western NY AFSP Zappalarti Society for LGBTQI Mental Health
New York State Senator Samra Brouk, Chair, Mental Health Committee
New York State Assembly Member Aileen Gunther, Chair Mental Health Committee New York State Senator Pete Harckham, Chair, Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Jihoon Kim, Deputy Secretary for Human Services and Mental Hygiene
New York State Senator Liz Krueger, Chair, Finance Committee
Alison Mitchell, Counsel to the Governor
Robert Mujica, Director, Division of the Budget
Mark Noordsy, Deputy Commissioner and Counsel. Office of Mental Health Peg O’Shea, Chief Budget Examiner, Division of the Budget
Ann Sullivan, MD, Commissioner, Office of Mental Health
New York State Assembly Member Helene Weinstein, Chair, Ways and Means Committee Charlie Williams, Deputy Director, Division of the Budget
David Wollner, Legislative Coordinator, Office of Mental Health
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