Stronger Together: Healing New York’s Behavioral Health Workforce
Special Projects Fund
March 15, 2021
In addition to loss of life and illness, the coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented trauma, anxiety, stress, social isolation, and economic decline for many New Yorkers, eroding protective factors and accelerating risk factors associated with poor mental health, substance use disorders, and overdoses.
The increase in need for behavioral health services is stressing New York’s already under-resourced behavioral health system. At the same time, the pandemic is taking a serious toll on behavioral health workers, who are often managing uncertainty, illness, and grief in their personal lives, all while caring for others. Studies confirm that the prolonged stress faced by many of these workers is increasing rates of trauma, compassion fatigue, depression, distress, and dissatisfaction with work. In 2021, NYSHealth awarded Coordinated Behavioral Care (CBC) a grant to support frontline behavioral health workers who have been caring for New Yorkers during the pandemic.
Under this grant, CBC will expand its initiative to address the needs of behavioral health workers across New York State as the pandemic continues. Initiated with federal grant funds, CBC’s “Stronger Together: Healing New York’s Behavioral Health Workforce” program offers trainings led by expert behavioral health and public health faculty on topics related to grief and loss, mindfulness, meditation, and anxieties regarding misinformation about the pandemic. Participants will have the opportunity to master self-care skills, share experiences, and process their fears, concerns, and anxieties through workshops and personalized sessions. CBC will expand its program sessions to meet the growing demand and add session topics to its curriculum, which includes wellness, infectious disease, self-care, personal healing, grief/bereavement, and coping skills. It will promote services and target outreach to some of the most heavily affected workers—peer support specialists and residential treatment staff—who are not currently engaged in programming because of scheduling constraints. CBC will also conduct statewide outreach to its member network and other partner agencies such as the New York State Office of Mental Health, the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports and its regional offices, and the New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. CBC will survey participants to understand whether current offerings are achieving intended goals, what other issues participants would like to cover, and which program offerings should be repeated and/or enhanced.