There is a national crisis in behavioral health, and Westchester County is no exception. Local health providers and hospitals have reported an increase in the number of serious suicide attempts. Emergency Department visits are rising, and there are significant waiting lists for outpatient treatment.
There also is an alarming increase in the number of opioid overdose deaths. The Medical Examiner’s Office recorded 136 opioid overdose deaths in 2020, of which 84 contained fentanyl and analogues. It reported 161 opioid overdose deaths in 2021, with 129 containing fentanyl and analogues. As of May 20, 2022, there have been 95 opioid fatalities containing fentanyl and analogues.
“We are clearly in the midst of a behavioral health crisis and experiencing the ripple effect of the pandemic and other societal stressors that impact the greater community and especially children and adolescents,” said Michael Orth, Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health.
The Foundation is supporting mental and behavioral health services for people of all ages. A total of $552,000 has been awarded in the past year to help meet the need. With our support, the Crisis Prevention and Response team at St. Vincent’s Hospital will provide services on weekends. The funds will also support the implementation of 988, the new national suicide hotline number, in Westchester.
Working in partnership with local mental health providers, the harris project has expanded an effective treatment program for young people with mental health and substance abuse disorders. And Westchester Jewish Community Services has provided ongoing mental health services to local college students through its College Emotional Wellness Initiative.