Thursday, June 8, 2017

Senator Marisol Alcántara Passes Bill Establishing Commission on Adolescent Mental Health

Council will Monitor Statewide Mental Health Programming, Suggest Policy Solutions for Youth with a Special Focus on Latinos

Senator Marisol Alcántara on Tuesday passed The Strong Minds, Strong Communities Act (S.5500C) that establishes a council to tackle the ongoing adolescent mental health crisis with a special focus on the disproportionate rates of mental health problems faced by Latinos in the state.

“We must address the mental health needs of the Latino community, particularly Latino adolescents, who face a higher rate of depression and suicide than their peers. This council will not only help deliver much needed services to this community, but also hopefully shed light on the sources of disparities between minority adolescents and their peers,” said Senator Alcántara.

In 2015, one in four of New York State’s Hispanic youth considered suicide and one in seven attempted suicide. At the same time, only 35% of Hispanics with depression received care as opposed to 60% of whites. Furthermore, just 1% of the American Psychology Association identified themselves as Latino, and many bilingual Latinos are unable to find mental health treatment in their native language.

This bill will establish a nine-member council with duties that include coordinating the delivery of mental health resources, monitoring the implementation of mental health agencies’ action plans, and determining further services and policies that will address the needs of adolescents at risk of suicide.

This final mandate will be conducted with an eye towards the special needs of minority groups, especially Latina and Latino adolescents who face higher rates of depression and suicide than their peers. In the course of their duties, the members of the council will prepare a report with policy recommendations that will be submitted to the governor and the legislature no later than October 2018.

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