Now more than ever, do we have a mental health crisis on our hands here in New York and across the nation. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a number of hardships to be placed on the shoulders of residents, not just that of physical health but also mental health. This is why I am calling upon the governor to keep the funding for these services steady.
Treatment of mental health issues, including psychiatrics, in New York is severely underfunded by our state and has been only receiving more cuts in recent years. According to Strategic Research Department of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), since 2000 there has been a 12% decrease in the number of inpatient psychiatric beds in New Yorks hospitals, despite the fact that discharges have not declined. State and county facilities have seen a decrease in inpatient treatments mainly due to driving factors such as the reduction of what is deemed unnecessary inpatient utilization, focusing on community-based and outpatient care, and the change in reimbursements.
While some treatments can be done with outpatient techniques, that is not the case with all instances. We need to ensure, for the safety and health of New Yorkers, that we maintain a number of inpatient programs and beds, should we need them. With the current pandemic, this is especially crucial, as we see a rise in people struggling with isolation, unemployment and lack of care. Unfortunately, we are even seeing a rise in cases of self-harming and suicides.
We cant afford to close these facilities. I would encourage all hospital administrators to continue to operate the mental health units at their hospitals without any deductions in services. I also call upon the governor to not make any cuts to the Office of Mental Health and these programs. I understand that we have quite a large gap in our budget, but this is neither the place nor the time to make cutbacks.