Governor Hochul meets with advocates to highlight youth mental health care and efforts to address the harmful effects of social media

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul met with advocates from the Mental Health Association of New York State (MHANYS) to highlight her continued investments in mental health care for young New Yorkers, including expanded access to innovative first aid training programs for youth and teenagers. The Governor reiterated her commitment to enact landmark national legislation addressing online safety and the harmful effects of social media in the final weeks of the 2024 state legislative session.

A hasty transcript of the governor’s remarks is available below:

Governor meets with youth mental health advocates.

I want to thank Glenn Liebman and everyone who is part of MHANYS, the Mental Health Association of New York State, for welcoming us here today, but also for being incredible champions and advocates for all of our citizens. worked on mental health care for young people. And so you are the ones who deal with the practitioners, you go into the classrooms, you deal with his hands. And I, as Governor of New York State, am so grateful that we have people like you who care so deeply about our young people. So let’s give a round of applause to everyone who is part of this great organization.

You know, you guys have really been at the forefront of bringing public attention to these issues, and they’ve fallen on deaf ears for so long. There was a stigma attached to talking about mental health and families felt ashamed to get help in schools – it wasn’t their place. And so we’re working very hard to change the whole dynamic of youth mental health care.

And that’s why I’ve been so focused, not just on the billion dollars, but on actually convening the first-ever Youth Mental Health Summit at the Javits Center. We had thousands of people who came – people who are professionals, we had young people, we had parents, educators, everyone who is part of that whole ecosystem to ensure that our children can develop in a healthy way.

And we also look at the barriers to this. That’s why we held our youth listening sessions in New York State. Launched it in the Bronx about a year ago. I’ve been through the five boroughs. I was in Buffalo a few days ago. We’ve done a lot of events with the legislators who have sponsored legislation that I think is critically important. If we cannot rise up and help our children out of a crisis, we have failed them. And I, as Governor of New York State, do not accept failure as an option.

So this is the urgency I bring to this matter. Why I’m investing a lot of my time, energy and political capital to say, “We can’t solve everything right now, but there’s one area where I know it can really make a difference.” And these are the effects of the addictive, and “addictive” is the word I’m focusing on, addictive algorithms that are designed to bombard our young people as they scroll through social media, and to engage them more deeply and make it harder for prompting them to put down their device or interact with others on a personal level.

East Amherst, NY – Governor Kathy Hochul convenes a roundtable discussion on youth mental health services at Williamsville East High School. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul) Click on each image to enlarge.

The companies are therefore responsible for this. This is driven by profit. They also know that there are negative consequences for children. They don’t have to listen to the Surgeon General who warned about the consequences of this a year ago. They just need to see what’s happening in their own families. I guarantee that the employees who work for these companies all see what is happening. The parents see what happens. The teachers see what is happening. And this Legislature works so hard. We are working with our legislative sponsors to say that you cannot continue the practice of bombarding young people with these absolutely addictive algorithms.

I cannot emphasize enough the powerful pull they have on our young people. I have seen them. I sat with them. And I can’t get out of my mind the young person who said to me, “You have to save us from ourselves. We don’t know how to stop.” Well, it’s not their fault. They don’t know how to stop because there is a deliberate strategy to lure them into it and get them hooked. That is our fight.

But also the rights of parents. Parents don’t know what happens at night when the children have to go to bed. These are young people who need their rest. They need their rest to face the next day and all the resilience that is built up by a good night’s sleep. Parents must have the right to say for themselves: ‘Enough is enough. I want my children to have peace and quiet 24 hours a day and to be able to shut down from midnight to 6am.” That seems very basic. I don’t understand why there could ever be any opposition to that.

So I’m here as the first mother governor of New York. I raised children. I know the stress they experience. I see what happens to the younger members of my family, cousins, and what happens to the children of friends of ours. So it’s real. It’s out there. So what we did was talk to, as I said, the young people themselves, the businesses, the people who are the professionals, and that’s what we’re doing here today, talking to parents, building a coalition of support to say: we will stand up for our children. We can save them, and it starts with legislation that we hope the Legislature will pass in the coming weeks.

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