Assemblymember Bronson and Senator Brouk Announce Legislation Expanding Diagnostic Authority for Mental Health Practitioners Signed into Law

New law will expand access to treatment and care; prevent practitioners from losing diagnostic authority during this mental health workforce shortage

ROCHESTER, NY— The Governor signed mental health care licensure reform into law, allowing mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and psychoanalysts to continue diagnosing and developing assessment-based treatment plans for New Yorkers who need help (S9449 Brouk/A6008-E Bronson). This new law will expand access to treatment for our children and families.

“For nearly a decade, as New York State disinvested from mental health care and let wages stagnate among a dwindling workforce, we relied on temporary solutions to meet the growing need for mental health professionals in our state. When I became Senate Mental Health Chair, I saw my job as transforming our mental health care system so that patients, families and those in crisis have a system they can depend on—the system they deserve,” said Senator Samra Brouk. “Today, with the enactment of a permanent extension and expansion of diagnostic authority among mental health practitioners, we are doing good on our commitment to New Yorkers to meet their needs and to transform care in our state for the better. I’m proud to have championed this licensure reform legislation alongside my Rochester Majority colleague, Assemblymember Harry Bronson, and look forward to continuing my work of investing in our mental health care system and community.”

“We are facing a mental health crisis which is getting even worse due to COVID-19 where the demand for services far outreaches the workforce available. But this is not just a workforce issue. This crisis is about our children, it’s about our families, it’s about our communities,” said Assemblymember Harry Bronson. With this legislation being signed into law, we will ensure we have the required number of providers who are eligible to diagnose and to develop assessment-based treatment plans to get people into mental health care they need. With this law we are meeting this crisis head-on for our children and families. Thank you to my colleague Senator Samra Brouk for working with me on this essential legislation and thank you to the Governor for her swift action in signing this legislation into law. Together, we are working to improve access to mental health in the State of New York.”

Maria Cristalli, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hillside said, “This is an important day for New York State’s mental health services community – including thousands of hard- working and highly skilled practitioners, and especially the countless vulnerable youth and families who will benefit from increased access to essential diagnostic and treatment services. Hillside has long advocated for this legislation to become law, and we are deeply grateful to Assemblymember Bronson, Senator Brouk and the Governor for their leadership on behalf of the children, adults and families of New York.”

“Licensed mental health counselors applaud the Governor on enactment of A.6008-E/S.9449 sponsored by Assemblymember Bronson and Senator Brouk. This legislation will enable mental health counselors to obtain diagnostic privilege that would allow them to diagnose and develop assessment-based treatment plans. As a profession, we have been working on this issue for decades and are happy an agreement has been reached, especially at a time when our state and country are experiencing a mental health crisis. We all need to work together to meet the demand for services, including those that are culturally diverse and competent, located in communities most in need. We look forward to partnering with the New York State Education Department to ensure the licensing and educational programming components are in place by June 24, 2024. Individuals across New York will benefit from the enactment of this critically important legislation,” said Juan Eric Arevalo, LMHC, President of the New York Mental Health Counselors Association.

"We applaud the Governor for signing this critically important legislation which will increase the number of mental health providers with diagnostic authority to serve the growing mental health needs of New York. Parity in diagnostic education and authority across the mental health professions is essential to ease mental health service access for New Yorkers and to promote diversity among mental health providers. We thank sponsors Senator Brouk and Assemblymember Bronson for their tireless efforts, as well as Higher Education Chairs Senator Stavisky and Assemblymember Glick for their leadership. These collaborative efforts were essential to achieving the passage of this essential legislation,” said Jennifer Harper, Legislative Director, On behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis (NAAP) and NYS licensed psychoanalysts.

Dr. Carol Podgorski, PhD, MPH, LMFT from the American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy - New York Chapter said, “Master’s prepared mental health clinicians such as Marriage and Family Therapists often serve as the point of entry to mental health care. These licensed practitioners have training and experience in assessing, diagnosing, and providing evidence-based treatments for a variety of behavioral health disorders, including depression and anxiety. New York, however, was one of the only states in the US that does not permit these licensed professionals to provide all of the services they are trained to offer. This has created treatment delays and added costs to those seeking care, especially in underserved populations across the state. This new law provides hope for increased mental health access for all New Yorkers who need care. This would not have been possible without the leadership of Assemblymember Bronson and Senator Brouk. Thank Governor for signing this bill into law today and improving access to mental health.”

"By signing this measure into law, the Governor has increased access to diagnosis and informed mental health treatment - a key path to healing for families and youth experiencing trauma, - a reality,” said Kathleen Brady-Stepien, President & CEO of the Council for Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA). “Licensed professionals can now provide an immediate plan for addressing a widespread and complex critical health care need. We are grateful to Assemblyman Bronson and Senator Brouk for gathering support within the legislature and Governor for taking action at such a critical moment."