Governor Cuomo signed Bill A10629A into law.

Governor Cuomo signed the following bill into law.

SPONSOR: Rules (Gunther)

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the mental hygiene law, in relation to establishing the frontline workers trauma informed care advisory council

PURPOSE:To establish an advisory council within the Office of Mental Health that would ensure the trauma related behavioral health needs of essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic are met.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 adds a new section 7.48 to the Mental Hygiene Law to establish the parameters of the Frontline Workers Trauma Informed Care Advisory Council within the Office of Mental Health. The council shall issue a report to the Legislature no later than December 1, 2020. Section 2 establishes the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION: Collective trauma is a psychological trauma experienced by a group of people of any size, up to and including an entire society in response to a mass traumatizing event. Mental health researchers are already anticipating that there will be collective trauma associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In the broadest sense, this collective trauma will be experienced globally, but more specifically, it will be experienced disproportionately by certain subgroups of people exposed more directly to the impact of the pandemic, such as frontline workers. Anticipating the mental health needs of these workers is essential for their own personal well-being and for those individuals who rely on their vital care.

At this time, it is uncertain how long this pandemic will last or how long it will be before some sense of normalcy is restored. It is critical, however, to plan now for mental health interventions to be put in place in anticipation of the emotional and psychological needs of these frontline workers. Based on our knowledge of trauma, and by extension collective trauma, we can anticipate that many of these individuals will experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders.

The impact of these disorders will include absenteeism, disability, and unemployment, which can compound healthcare and mental health care access issues. This advisory council will ensure that trauma-related behavioral health needs of essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic are met.