MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- A number of local lawmakers were at a forum Thursday evening, discussing the future of mental health services that are available in the state.
In July, the state Office of Mental Health released a plan that would break the state up into 15 regional centers. The aim is to make a more centralized program with maintaining smaller and more specialized hospitals in a move to reduce its infrastructure and make the program more flexible.
The concern, though, is that several centers across the state are also slated to be closed under the plan, including the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center.
Many leaders in the field say that closing centers and re-organizing programs isn't the answer, saying instead expanding alternative services for those who need help, but may not need hospitalization should be considered.
"We don't have enough beds in every community in this state and we're never going to be able to, but we need to identify the alternatives that could be removed and added more quickly than large inpatient hospital beds," said Andrea Smith, Executive Director of the New York State Coalition for Children’s Mental Health Services.
The Office of Mental Health hopes to have the program fully established by 2017.
For more information on the program, visit www.omh.ny.gov.