Hochul to Invest in Mental Health Services at SUNY

Photo Courtesy of New York

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a $10 million annual investment to expand mental health services across SUNY colleges on Feb. 14. The funding was allocated through this year’s historic $163 million increase in operating aid to SUNY campuses. The investment will benefit over 200,000 students as well as faculty and staff. 

“We are making critical investments to ensure every New Yorker has access to high-quality mental health services,” Hochul said. “College can be a stressful and overwhelming time, and this funding will expand mental health services on college campuses so students can focus on just being students.”

Each SUNY school benefiting from the funds are free to invest in specific services best suited to their own campuses. At least 25 campuses benefiting from the funding will retain, hire or extend the contracts of counselors and social workers on campus. Many will specifically hire counselors best suited to the needs of LGBT students and students of color. 14 campuses will create or expand telecounseling programs to allow for 24/7 telehealth services.

“Helping students succeed is fundamental to what we do here at SUNY New Paltz, and mental health and wellbeing are key components of how we define ‘student success,’” said SUNY New Paltz Assistant Vice President of Wellbeing Katherine Lieblich. “This new funding announced by Governor Hochul will help us ensure that New Paltz students have sustained access to these kinds of resources, so that they can thrive here at our University and long after graduation.”

According to a 2022 American College Health Association (ACHA) study that surveyed over 54,000 undergraduates, 77% of college students report experiencing some kind of moderate-to-severe psychological stress. 

“For decades, our mental health system was deprioritized and defunded. Make no mistake: this is the defining challenge of our time,” Hochul said in her 2024 State of the State address in January.

While many faculty and students across the SUNY and CUNY system welcome Hochul’s mental health policy, some students are criticizing Hochul for inconsistencies with her initiatives. Young Invincibles (YI) is a student-led organization founded in 2020 that champions affordable healthcare for young adults. After Hochul’s State of the State address, YI criticized the governor for her failure to acknowledge counselor inequities and financial disparities affecting students’ mental health.

“We were heartened to see the prioritization of SNAP enrollment supports at CUNY and SUNY and universal FAFSA completion support, but two of the greatest priorities for young adults’ basic needs, mental health and affordable housing, continue to be ignored,” said Northeast YI Regional Director Sean Henry Miller. 

Some of what YI is advocating is matching the 1:1,000 ratio of counselors to students recommended by the International Accreditation of Counseling Service and implementing more money for mental health programs on campuses. YI has not yet released a comment on Hochul’s recent SUNY mental health expansion.

If students at New Paltz are seeking mental health support, the Psychological Counseling Center offers a variety of free services and programs that are always available. 

About Katie Ondris 46 Articles
Katie Ondris is a second-year journalism major from New Jersey. They have previous experience with fiction writing, but The Oracle is their first position as a journalist. Outside of New Paltz, they work as a barista and spend their free time indulged in films and books.