ALBANY, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Wednesday, October 18 that the state has received funding to expand access to mental and behavioral health services.

The New York State Office of Mental Health has received two grants totaling over $13 million, which were announced following the New York State Suicide Prevention Conference in Albany on Tuesday, October 17. More than 400 advocates, school staff and service providers were in attendance at the conference on Tuesday, which highlighted components of response to growing suicide rates.

Part of the federal funding will help expand collaborative care at 15 primary care practices that are focused on serving patients 18 and younger.

“Now more than ever, we must acknowledge that mental health is a basic human right and that we must do more to help New Yorkers – especially our young people – before they reach a point of crisis,” Governor Hochul said in a statement. “With this federal funding, we redouble our commitment to improving the mental health care system in our state and to ensuring all New Yorkers –especially our youth and those from vulnerable populations – have access to the stigma-free resources they can rely on to maintain positive mental well-being.”

Additionally, the $10 million from the United State Department of Health and Human Services will be used to provide participating primary care practices with training in suicide prevention. Funding will also be used to overcome workforce shortages and developing a sustainable model for suicide prevention.

The Office of Mental Health also received just over $3 million in another federal grant to expand the Zero Suicide Model at 13 certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics across the state. The Zero Suicide Model aims to help integrate suicide prevention in the health care system. The Office was just one of 15 awardees nationwide and will use the funding to reduce suicide rates in areas serviced by those clinics. The Office also anticipates that it will help roughly 50,000 individuals over the course of the grant.

“We must do more to support mental well-being of our youth – especially among marginalized populations,” New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said in a statement. “Governor Hochul’s landmark plan provides both an evidenced-based blueprint to improve our state’s mental health system and provides the funding to build these services and supports. We applaud this commitment as we collectively work toward reducing the stigma of mental illness and improving our system of care at all levels statewide.”

The grants will help to further Governor Hochul’s goal to overhaul New York’s mental health care system and address the mental health needs of New York State youth over the next five years. The governor has already secured more than $30 million in this year’s budget to expand mental health services for school-aged children and $10 million to strengthen suicide prevention programs for high-risk youth.

“Access to mental health services should be a right, not a privilege,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said in a statement. “This vital funding will help ensure that our young people facing mental health battles get the life-saving support they need. I am proud to support Governor Hochul’s commitment to suicide prevention, and I will continue fighting so everyone has mental health services and resources.”