Attorney General Presses for Better Mental Health Access for New Yorkers 

June 22, 2022 by Alexa Hornbeck
Attorney General Presses for Better Mental Health Access for New Yorkers 

New York Attorney General Letitia James held a public hearing on Wednesday regarding the accessibility of mental health care for New Yorkers with serious mental illness.

Over 250,000 New Yorkers are known to have serious mental health illness. A quarter of New York City adults reported anxiety and 18% reported depression, according to recent data from the New York City Department of Health.

“Housing, health care and community — we must ensure that people with SMI have [these things],” said Ashwin Vasan, who serves as commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 

According to Vasan the mental health care system in New York City has taken a major workforce hit during the pandemic.



Data from the department shows that 400 inpatient psychiatric beds have been eliminated statewide since the start of the pandemic. There are estimated to be fewer than 5,000 adult short-term inpatient psychiatric beds in hospitals across the state.

“Hospitals have incentives to close psychiatric units and relocate them,” said Anthony Carino, a psychiatry specialist from the Center for Urban Community Services. “There’s also incentive to discharge quickly.”

According to Carino, during the COVID-19 pandemic patient overflow caused many psychiatric patients to be sent to Brunswick Hospital in Long Island.


“It was a real shame that New York City, with so many resources, was sending patients out,” said Carino. 

Alexa can be reached at [email protected]

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