Legislative Testimony for Public Hearing

Executive Summary

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The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is an advocacy organization targeting individuals with mental health challenges. The organization operates in various states, including New York. Hence, it is committed to enhancing legislative efforts to improve mental health services in the state. Evidence from the research reveals that while mental health challenges are significantly higher in New York, the current services and programs are inadequate to meet the needs of individuals affected by mental health illness. Therefore, legislative efforts will help the state to overcome the challenge and hence bridge the gap in mental health care. Changes will support NAMI in its advocacy efforts to improve outcomes in mental health care in New York.




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Legislative Testimony for Public Hearing


The National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) is an advocacy organization targeting individuals with mental health challenges. The organization has a mission of being “dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness” (NAMI, 2019). The association was established in 1979 as a small group of families but has grown to become the country’s leading advocate of individuals and communities affected by mental health issues. It is currently an association of 500 local affiliates working in communities to create awareness and educate affected individuals and groups. The organization is interested in the hearing testimonies to ensure that the New York government implements legislative efforts to improve mental health care in the state. The state is affected by a high rate of mental health disorders that are the primary cause of disabilities.


It is important for the government to provide adequate insurance for individuals suffering from various types of mental health disorders. New Yorkers need mental wellbeing, which is possible through effective legislative efforts. Many New York residents suffer from mental health problems. It is estimated that 19.5 million residents of New York, almost 673,000 adults have serious mental health problems. Approximately 204,000 children have severe mental health disorders. Over 1.4 million residents suffer from co-occurring mental health and substance use problems (NAMI, n.d.). Therefore, the New York government should ensure that the residents have adequate mental health care.

New York suffers a high cost in terms of lost lives and economic implications of the loss of productivity and the treatment of individuals with mental health problems. In 2007, 1,396 New Yorkers committed suicide. During the 2006-07 school years, about half of students aged over 14 years diagnosed with mental health illness left school (NAMI, n.d.). Mental health issues are the leading contributors to homelessness in New York.  Although the state spends significant financial resources in the treatment of people with mental health challenges, public mental health services remain insufficient in the country.

City governance has already implemented programs to achieve the objective. For example, the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and first lady Chirlane McCray initiated the “Thrive NYC: A Mental Health Roadmap” for All to provide necessary support to individuals suffering from diverse mental health disorders, including depression, which was identified as one of the leading cause of disabilities in New York and the country (Canady, 2016). However, such initiatives require effective legislative support to ensure effectiveness in improving mental health care.

Regardless of available support, including mental health facilities in New York, the needs of mental health patients remain inadequately met. Mental health services lack an effective assessment of patients to identify their needs and implement interventions to address such requirements (Norman et al., 2018). Furthermore, patients with mental health disorders in New York are most likely to be held in mental health facilities, incurring a huge cost to the individual and the health care system (Heun-Johnson, Menchine, Goldman, & Seabury, n.d). Insurance support should provide improved mental health care to diverse patients, including those who have PTSD. Wiznia et al. (2017) established that regardless of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, few patients have access to psychiatric care. For example, Medicaid patients face various barriers, including the demand for PCP referral and long waiting periods. Although the findings from the study are specific to PTSD patients, it is possible that they are generalizable to other mental health problems.

Besides adequate insurance, New York requires adequately trained mental health care professionals to meet the needs of mental health care patients. Currently, many of the patients receive care in primary health care settings, which are ill-equipped to support their needs (Bagayogo, Turcios-Wiswe, Taku, Peccoralo, & Katz, 2018). However, it is possible to pursue a model for integrating primary care into mental health care settings (Rogers et al., 2016). Therefore, legislative efforts should include the means to provide adequate mental health care (such as through insurance) and well-trained care providers.

Relevance to New York State

New York State is one of the states in the country largely affected by mental health problems. According to research, millions of residents suffer from diverse mental health illness, including depression. It is important to note that mental health disabilities are a serious problem. Statistics reveal that approximately 19.5 million people in the state are affected by mental health problems. Notably, mental health illnesses are among the leading causes of death through suicide in the state. Unfortunately, public mental health services remain inadequate to meet the needs of New Yorkers affected by the problem. Therefore, legislative efforts to address the problem will help thousands of the residents, save lives, and reduce the cost associated with mental health issues in the state. In addition, the efforts will help individuals and communities to regain productivity and assist in the participation state building.

Relevance to the Organization

Legislative efforts to improve the health and welfare of individuals with mental health problems are relevant to the work of The National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI). The organization advocates for affected individuals and communities and builds better lives for the affected Americans. NAMI operates from various states, including New York to educate, advocate for, listen to, and lead efforts to support Americans with mental health challenges. Legislative changes to improve mental health care in New York will have a direct impact on the role of NAMI. It will improve access to mental health services to thousands of New Yorkers who suffer from diverse issues and lack relevant services to improve their health and wellbeing. It will also enable mental health professionals to improve their service delivery to meet their needs.

The proposed legislative changes relate directly to the purpose of NAMI to promote recovery by serving the needs of people affected by mental illness through efforts to preserve and strengthen family relationships. The support is provided through various programs, such as education, informational publications, support groups, and presentations. NAMI recognizes the need to create effective legal structures to close the current gaps in care provision to individuals with mental health challenges.


As it is evident from the analysis of presentations and Legislative testimony from public hearings, mental health illness is among the leading public health problems in New York. Therefore, the state needs improved mental health services to advance services and close the gap in mental health care and enhance service delivery to meet the objective of improving health services in New York.

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