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Hochul convenes youth mental health summit

Governor Kathy Hochul gives opening remarks at the youth mental health summit in New York City on June 15.
Screenshot from livestream
Governor Kathy Hochul gives opening remarks at the youth mental health summit in New York City on June 15.

Governor Kathy Hochul convened a state summit on youth mental health in New York City on Thursday. "Teenagers are facing a crisis like never seen before in the history of this country," Hochul said. "It's anxiety, it's depression, and it's suicide."

The event followed seven listening sessions held around the state, in which more than 200 young New Yorkers expressed their mental health concerns.

"We need professionals in our schools, is what these kids said," Hochul said. "And not one mental health counselor for a school of 700, which is what they talked about."

Hochul pointed out that the new state budget includes a billion dollars to overhaul the state's mental health system, and about $35 billion in education funding. "And I'm saying, make sure that every school with this extra money has mental health support," she said.

"We're also gonna make sure that next year, commercial insurers will be required to cover school-based mental health services," she said.

According to the CDC, 42% of all high school students — including three in five high school girls — report feeling persistently sad or hopeless, and 22% have considered suicide. The numbers are worse among young people from marginalized groups. Suicides among Black youth rose 37% between 2018 and 2021, Hochul said. She also cited statistics about young people from the LGBTQ community.

"We're so proud to be the birthplace of the LGBTQ movement, right here in New York, and we'll be celebrating with our Pride parade, but think about the fact that almost 70% of LGBTQ+ kids feel persistently sad or hopeless, and 37% of them have made a suicide plan," she said.

Hochul said the teens she met with pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic and social media as the two biggest causes of the current mental health crisis.

She expressed support for several possible restrictions on social media companies, including setting a minimum age for social media use, requiring parental consent, and restricting companies from using algorithms that can feed kids potentially harmful content.

"It's time we have real, serious conversations about these common sense measures, because every social media company has to do more," she said.