SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Part of Governor Kathy Hochul’s billion-dollar plan to improve mental health care will be focused on schools. She is proposing $10 million in grants for suicide prevention programs targeting at-risk youth and $10 million to expand school-based mental health services.

“Kids that don’t get help, it puts them at a disadvantage in the classroom and beyond and it sets them up for failure,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “So our children need preventative services now to stop them from needing intensive services later.”

Hochul said since the pandemic more than one in three New Yorkers have sought out mental health services. However there have been barriers including getting appointments, long waits, and insurance may not cover the visit. Another barrier is not enough in-patient beds, so funding will be to add 1,000.

Hochul said they’ll add those, “by funding 150 beds at state facilities and bringing 850 psych beds back online in hospitals.”

Hochul is also proposing legislation to stop insurance agencies from denying access to mental health services for both adults and children.

Another issue she addressed is opioid addiction and how prevalent fentanyl is. She is proposing expanding access to fentanyl test strips, so giving people the ability to test their drugs before using.

“That seems pretty extreme, but I believe it will save lives. I believe we have to take that step to let them test. We have to spend the money, get the test kits out,” Hochul said.