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Health & Medicine

Onondaga County Aims to Improve Youth Mental Health Services With New Federal Funding

Scott Willis

Onondaga County’s Mental Health Services team is getting more resources to assist at-risk young people struggling with mental illness.   The Department of Children and Family Services will receive $4 million in federal funding over the next four years.

County Executive Ryan McMahon says they’ll build on existing programs.

We’re going to create a dedicated team to assess and match the individual to mental health, substance use services, educational and employment resources, skills training programs, [and] other supportive programming that supports youths’ needs to support their transition into adulthood.

The funding will also raise awareness about mental health issues such as suicide. Congressmember John Katko says that the number two cause of death for kids 24 and under is suicide.

Then you overlay with that kids that are in dire circumstances, then you overlay with that the lack of parenting or awful parenting, and that’s where these angels step in. And we’re giving them the tools that they need to intervene with these kids.”

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
Rep. John Katko and County Executive Ryan McMahon chat before the press conference.

Katko credited the county employees in the room for the hard work they do.  County Legislator Julie Abbott-Kenan says it became apparent during recent budget negotiations that there’s a connection between mental illness and the justice system.

You heard it from our sheriff: jail over-crowding, raise the age, young people, mental illness is putting them there. You heard it from our district attorney: offenders, mental-illness related. This is an issue.”

Abbott-Kenan hopes we’re past the stigma of mental illness, and that people will seek the help they need.  In the United States, 1 out of every 10 Americans will end their lives with suicide.