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As Largest Provider of Behavioral Health Services in NYC, Health + Hospitals Will Offer $30,000 to $50,000 in Debt Relief to Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Nurse Practitioners, and Social Workers Who Commit to Serve for Three Years

New Yorkers Can Support Effort Through Donations as Program Expands

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Health + Hospitals today announced the launch of a new student loan forgiveness program for behavioral health providers, funded by a $1 million contribution from an anonymous donor. The new program is designed to help attract and retain doctors, nurse practitioners, and other clinicians who care for New Yorkers with mental health or substance use needs as the U.S. faces a national mental health professional shortage. NYC Health + Hospitals will offer psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers between $30,000 and $50,000 of debt relief in exchange for a three-year commitment to serve the public health system.

NYC Health + Hospitals provides about half of all behavioral health services for children and adults in New York City. The loan forgiveness program will be available to eligible employees and new hires for the next year or until the $1 million donation has been distributed. Applications open tomorrow, Monday, July 25, 2022, and New Yorkers can support this effort by donating directly to NYC Health and Hospitals.

“The behavioral health professionals in our public health system work tirelessly to support the most vulnerable New Yorkers living with mental illness and alcohol and substance use disorders,” said Mayor Adams. “Too often, these health care workers graduate with crippling debt and have no choice but to work in the private sector to pay off their bills. Especially at a time when the nation is facing a shortage of these lifesaving practitioners, and simultaneously facing an increased need for these professional due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this loan forgiveness program will help us attract and retain top talent to continue serving New Yorkers across the city. I’m grateful to the anonymous donor for this generous donation, and I encourage other businesses and individuals to chip in if they are able to support this important cause.”

“As we continue to see an increasing number of New Yorkers struggling with mental health and substance use disorder, the essential services of our behavioral health team are needed more than ever,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “This donation will allow us to recruit and retain extraordinary clinicians to help address the ongoing mental health crisis.”

“This loan forgiveness program is a great way to invest in our mental health workforce,” said Dr. Charles Barron, deputy chief medical officer, Office of Behavioral Health, NYC Health + Hospitals. “With less debt to worry about, our mental health teams can focus on doing what they do best: providing high-quality mental health support to New Yorkers.”

“We are tremendously grateful for our donor’s exemplary investment in this work,” said Deborah A. Brown, senior vice president for external and regulatory affairs, NYC Health + Hospitals, JD, MSW. “With this transformative contribution, we hope to inspire more philanthropic interest and create a steady pipeline of support for high-achieving behavioral health staff in the years to come.”

“Since very early in my educational trajectory, I stumbled upon a quote that read, ‘Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life.’ This has been true to me, as my career as a clinical social worker with NYC Health + Hospitals has allowed me to fulfill my career objectives and gain tremendous pride in doing that as a public servant in my own city,” said Adriana Rodriguez-Boseman, clinical social worker, NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Roberto Clemente Center. “However, the cost of these professional goals has come with a steep price tag. The future is always uncertain, but loan forgiveness will make these dreams a reality.”

“The nationwide shortage of health care workers has impacted facilities and providers all across the country, at a time when the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for services,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. “The anonymous donation announced today by Mayor Adams and NYC Health + Hospitals’ CEO Mitch Katz will help NYC Health + Hospitals recruit and retain behavioral health professionals, which is very good news for the people of New York City. Congratulations to Dr. Katz, and my sincere thanks to very generous anonymous donor.”

“With nearly 300,000 New Yorkers suffering from severe mental illness, the city’s focus must be to invest in our behavioral health workforce to meet the tasks we are asking of them,” said New York City Councilmember Linda Lee, chair, Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addictions. “No matter how much we rightly invest in services, we cannot meet the need without a trained and motivated mental health workforce to do the work on the ground. As a social worker myself, I know firsthand the difficulties in attracting and retaining talented mental health professionals, which is why I’ve been an advocate for this proposal for so long. While this is a step in the right direction, I look forward to working with the City Council, the mayor, and the wider mental health provider community to expand these opportunities for non-Health + Hospitals providers. Mental health touches every single one of us, and I am grateful for the generosity of the anonymous donor, as well as the leadership of Mayor Adams, for hearing the needs of the provider community and the communities they serve.”

“The student loan forgiveness program for behavioral health providers will surely help keep young healthcare professionals right here in New York City, where their expertise and willingness to serve is desperately needed,” said New York City Councilmember Mercedes Narcisse. “I commend Mayor Adams for his efforts to alleviate the crippling student loan debt faced by many of these workers, which too often drives them away from working in our public hospitals. Let me also thank the anonymous New Yorker for their generous donation, which will allow our city to attract and retain psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and licensed clinical social workers in our hospital workforce.”

“If we want to meet the increased need for mental health services, particularly for underserved communities, we must talk about workforce development,” said Dan H. Gillison Jr., CEO, National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Loan repayment can help lift the financial burden of mental health professionals, who are already at high risk for burnout, and create more opportunities for people from historically underrepresented communities to join the workforce. We applaud these efforts to increase the pipeline of practitioners and address the urgent mental health needs our communities are facing. If we want more mental health services, we must invest in the people who provide them.”

“Mental Health America is thrilled to see this announcement by Mayor Adams and NYC Health + Hospitals of a student loan repayment program for behavioral health professionals,” said Schroeder Stribling, president and CEO, Mental Health America. “We know that our urgent national mental health crisis is in part driven by the lack of qualified professionals to meet the level of need from individuals seeking help. This new student loan repayment program will create practical incentives and an equitable pathway for individuals looking to enter the profession. It will also increase the supply of diverse and culturally responsive providers available and ready to answer the call for all persons in need, regardless of their insurance status or other obstacles to access. We congratulate New York for leading the way with this innovative and important program.”

“Urban Resource Institute enthusiastically applauds the new NYC Health + Hospitals student loan repayment program that will be made available to psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, social workers, and other behavioral health professionals,” stated Nathaniel M. Fields, CEO, Urban Resource Institute (URI). “As a leading provider of social services, URI is keenly aware of the challenges facing the behavioral health sector, which have been exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19. This student loan repayment program will provide much-needed support to the clinicians who deliver vital services to their New York City clients, such as the homeless families and domestic violence survivors served by URI. We look forward to continued partnership with the Adams administration to attract and retain talented professionals in behavioral health fields.”

Early-career psychiatrists have on average $190,000 of medical school debt, psychiatric nurse practitioners have on average $56,000 of debt, social workers have on average $68,000 of debt, and psychologists have on average $80,000 of debt.

As part of the largest municipal health care system in the nation, NYC Health + Hospitals’ public hospitals and neighborhood health centers offer a wide variety of excellent mental health services to foster recovery from mental illness of all kinds. Additionally, NYC Health + Hospitals provides the highest-quality alcohol and substance use recovery programs as part of its behavioral and mental health services, with personalized, caring treatment plans that are effective for each patient.

New Yorkers who need support for mental health or substance use can call 844-NYC-4NYC for an appointment at NYC Health + Hospitals or contact NYC Well online.