NYC Health + Hospitals offers behavioral health professionals debt relief


Dr. Shannon O’Connor, Buckley Behavioral Health Optimization Program professional, speaks with a patient. | Photo by Samantha Meadors via Wikimedia Commons

NEW YORK – NYC Health + Hospitals has recently launched a new student loan forgiveness program for behavioral health providers. It offers 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.

Funded by an anonymous donor’s $1 million contribution, the new program is designed to help attract and retain doctors, nurse practitioners, and other clinicians as the U.S. faces a national mental health professional shortage.

“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 Eric 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.”

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.

NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD, noted 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,” Katz said. “This donation will allow us to recruit and retain extraordinary clinicians to help address the ongoing mental health crisis.”

As part of the nation’s most extensive municipal health care system, NYC Health + Hospitals’ public hospitals and neighborhood health centers offer a wide variety of excellent mental health services to foster recovery from mental illnesses 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 effective personalized, caring treatment plans for each patient.

“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.”

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.

–With Ricky Rillera/PDM

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