NCDMH Director Laura Kelemen Testifies at Attorney General Hearing on Access to Mental Health Care

Laura Kelemen, Director of Community Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services for Niagara County and Chair of the New York State Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors, is testifying today at the NYS Office of the Attorney General’s  public hearing on Access to Mental Health Care for People with Serious Mental Illnes. The full public hearing, beginning at 11 a.m., can be livestreamed here:

In her testimony, Kelemen states “Across Western New York, our outpatient mental health clinics, the core of our system, are struggling with workforce. Programs across our area, including in Cattaraugus, Niagara, Orleans, and Genesee Counties, have reported 25 – 45% staff vacancy rates for Master’s level therapist positions during the past year, while demand for services has risen. Programs have decreased or eliminated same-day access to services. While programs will continue to see individuals with acute needs, others have experienced longer wait times for service, or longer wait times in between appointments. Agencies have scaled back on satellite locations – for example, 28% of currently established school satellites in Niagara County are currently not operating due to vacancies. The result, highlighted in the Governor’s State of the State Book, is that more than 40% of adults and nearly 50% of children/youth who experienced mental health challenges were unable to receive necessary treatment.”

To read Kelemen’s full testimony, click here.