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SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. visited ESF to learn about the College's mental health initiatives.

Governor Hochul Expands Access to Mental Health Care to 200,000 SUNY Students

ALBANY, N.Y. – Feb. 14, 2024 - Governor Kathy Hochul announced State University of New York campuses are investing nearly $10 million in annual State funding to increase their mental health services and support for students, faculty, and staff. This investment will expand services at 28 campuses, support more than 200,000 students, and build on its Statewide Tele-Psychiatry Network (STPN) and new tele-counseling option for community colleges.

“We are making critical investments to ensure every New Yorker has access to high-quality mental health services,” Governor Hochul said. “College can be a stressful and overwhelming time, and this funding will expand mental health services on college campuses so students can focus on just being students.”

This funding was secured through the Governor’s and the New York State Legislature’s historic $163 million recurring increase in direct operating aid to SUNY’s State-operated campuses this year. To highlight the impact of the funding, SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. visited SUNY Oswego and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) Feb. 14. At Oswego, he spoke with students about mental health and met with counselors and staff at the recently renovated Mary Walker Health Center. The center, named after Oswego native Mary Walker, the only female Medal of Honor recipient, houses the campus Counseling Services.  

To build on the campus’ model counseling operation that has long been at the vanguard of initiatives for SUNY and higher education in general, SUNY Oswego is investing its new state funding in:  

  • Hiring more staff to support students, such as staff that specialize in providing care to students from marginalized backgrounds. 
  • Entering tele-counseling contracts to provide more access to therapy and practitioners from diverse backgrounds. 
  • Extending counselor contracts so they can provide services over the summer months. 
  • Being able to provide an increase in pay to per diem staff who offer much-needed services. 

At ESF, the Counseling Center staff provides therapy services for students, hosts outreach initiatives and training, and consults with campus members on how to best support students and connect them to resources. To expand the services provided for students, ESF will utilize the funding in:

  • Hiring additional staff to support the campus community.
  • Hosting a Mental Health Symposium to bring together staff, faculty, and students for an event that focuses on topics related to mental health.
  • Launching a peer ambassador program to assist with programming initiatives on campus. 

Other state-operated campuses will use their portion of the $10 million to expand mental health services and support including:

  • At least 25 campuses will hire, retain, or extend the contracts of over 90 mental health staff, including psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and other clinical staff. Many campuses will be able to increase their capacity to meet student mental health needs by extending clinical hours or focusing on targeted student populations.  
  • 14 campuses will leverage telehealth contracts to increase capacity and meet crisis and off-hours student needs. Telehealth contracts will also allow for several campuses to connect students to a more diverse clinical staff, both in terms of specialties and demographics. 

SUNY’s Student Tele-Psychiatry Network (STPN) has grown from four campuses utilizing the service in 2018 to 56 campuses as of spring 2024. The entire network is run out of SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, and utilizes psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, case managers, and more. STPN primarily provides psychiatric services and medication management to SUNY students. The network may also provide diagnoses, mental health assessments, and short-term Cognitive Behavioral Therapy intervention to students. Since the spring of 2017, 2,085 students have been seen overall via the STPN, with around 13,430 appointments since that time. 

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, “Mental health is health, and as more students seek mental health care, we need to be there for them with expanded services, including having enough counselors on campus or online 24-7. Mental health care is a critical support for student success, and we are grateful for the Governor’s ongoing commitment and investment across SUNY’s campuses, including $10 million in annual funding for mental health support.”  

ESF President Joanie Mahoney said, “As we continue to prioritize the well-being of everyone who learns at ESF, we appreciate the funding that enables us to invest in innovative resources to support students’ mental health. While we are committed to helping students navigate immediate challenges, our ultimate goal is to provide them with strategies and skills that cultivate resilience so they can thrive during their college experience and beyond.”

SUNY Oswego President Peter O. Nwosu said, “We applaud Chancellor King and the SUNY system for their ongoing attention to mental wellness and support for such important services. The breadth and depth of our commitment to student wellbeing is a big part of our campus culture, and these funds will allow us to build upon our efforts in a healthy and substantial way.” 

Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, “Our students and youth are experiencing a mental health crisis that’s only grown since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, amidst a shortage of mental health professionals plaguing the nation more broadly. I’m pleased to see the record operating aid we secured for SUNY and CUNY last year going towards improving mental health on campuses throughout the state to address this crisis head-on. Thank you to SUNY Chancellor John King and Governor Hochul for continuing to invest in student success and comprehensive mental healthcare.”

Fact Sheet Outlining Campus Initiatives Available Here.


The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is dedicated to the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable and resilient future through design, policy, and management of the environment and natural resources. Members of the College community share a passion for protecting the health of the planet and a deep commitment to the rigorous application of science to improve the way humans interact with the world. The College offers academic programs ranging from the associate of applied science to the Doctor of Philosophy. ESF students live, study and do research on the main campus in Syracuse, N.Y., and on 25,000 acres of field stations in a variety of ecosystems across the state.

About The State University of New York 

The State University of New York, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2023, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95% of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit