Governor Hochul Announces $4 Million to Increase Mental Health Workforce Diversity

August 25, 2022

From the office of Governor Hochul

SUNY and CUNY Will Each Receive $2 Million To Support Students Underrepresented in Mental Health Degree Programs 

Partnership with State Office of Mental Health Aimed at Attracting, Retaining and Graduating Minority and Multilingual Students 

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced $4 million in federal funding to support underrepresented students entering or enrolled in mental health degree programs at State University of New York or City University of New York campuses. Through a partnership with the New York State Office of Mental Health, SUNY and CUNY will each be provided $2 million to support tuition assistance, paid internships, and direct stipends for minority and multilingual students. 

"As we continue to strengthen our health care system in New York, we must ensure that we build a diverse and inclusive workforce," Governor Hochul said. "This partnership will provide incentives for underrepresented students to enroll or remain in mental health programs - helping diversify our future workforce and ensure that all communities are well-served by our public health care system." 

The partnership will incentivize minority and multilingual students enrolled at 18 CUNY campuses - including five community colleges, eight senior colleges, three comprehensive colleges and the CUNY Graduate Center and CUNY School of Professional Studies - and 16 SUNY campuses - including eight community colleges, four comprehensive colleges, and four university centers - to enter in or continue paths of study that will prepare them for the mental health field. This is the latest action New York State has taken to address a lack of diversity in the field, which in turn leads to disparities in the delivery of mental health care for marginalized populations. 

Minority health care providers are more likely to meet the needs of underserved populations, with a diverse workforce resulting in greater patient and client satisfaction, engagement, and retention in care. Additionally, the mental health workforce is experiencing a shortage of multilingual clinicians, further driving disparities in access, quality, and treatment outcomes for individuals who have limited English proficiency. 

New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, "OMH is making great strides to increase the diversity of the public mental health workforce. Our Office of Diversity and Inclusion coordinates statewide activities to advance health equity and help eliminate health care disparities. By partnering with SUNY and CUNY, we will be better able to recruit and retain a more diverse and inclusive workforce that will provide insights and experiences we can use to reach out to marginalized and under-served communities." 

SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley said, "At SUNY we are not only educating and training the future professionals of the mental health field, but also recognizing the need for those professionals to represent the wide array of people they will be serving. Oftentimes, a barrier to care for our students and others seeking mental health care is not having access to a practitioner that can relate to or intimately understand their struggles. In New York, we know that our unique backgrounds, cultures, and languages only make our workforce stronger, which is why we thank Governor Hochul for her continued investment in providing more opportunities for underrepresented minorities and making education more accessible for all." 

CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said, "The funding announced today by Governor Hochul to expand the pipeline for underrepresented students to begin careers in mental health will increase opportunity and reduce health disparities for the communities that CUNY serves. CUNY is among the most diverse universities in the country. We welcome the financial support that will help more of our students join a field that is in great need of diversity and improve the quality and delivery of mental health services for people in the communities that are the most traditionally underserved." 

Students eligible for this assistance are those who are multilingual; enrolled in a language-specific degree program; or are of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, Latinx, Spanish origin, or are Native American, Alaska Native, Black, African American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. 

Eligible programs at CUNY include certificate, associate, bachelor's, master's and doctorate programs in social work and human services; psychology; psychiatric nursing; and grief counseling and mental health counseling. 

At SUNY community colleges, eligible programs include associate degree programs in liberal arts and sciences: humanities and social sciences with tracks or concentrations including mental health assistant, human services, sociology, and psychology. On four-year SUNY campuses, eligible degree programs include health and society; public health concentration; sociology and psychology. 

Many of these four-year institutions also offer a Master of Science degree program in mental health counseling and a master's degree program in social work, as well as dual degree programs in mental health counseling or a master's degree in public health. Eligible studies at SUNY university centers include Bachelor of Science degrees in mental health counseling, human development; and doctorate degrees in sociology, psychology; and Doctor of Psychology degrees. 

Federal legislation made the initiative possible by providing New York State with supplemental funding for mental health services through a time-limited expansion of the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, the formula used to reimburse states for most Medicaid programs.

Representative Paul Tonko said, "Lack of diversity remains a lingering problem in the mental health field, and that deficit only leads to further lack of access and disproportionate care for communities of color. Investing in and strengthening educational programs are a critical step in building a diverse mental health workforce. I'm grateful for the leadership and commitment to equality of all those working to empower our bright students and better enable them to serve and give back to their communities." 

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY's 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit suny.edu.


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