New York Governor Announces Partnership with Puerto Rico

Governor Hochul Announces Partnership with Puerto Rico to Boost Mental Health Services

New York (STL.News) During a tour of Concilio de Salud Integral de Loiza in Loiza, Puerto Rico, Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a partnership among the New York State Governor’s Office, CUNY, SUNY, the Institute for Disaster Mental Health at SUNY New Paltz and the University of Puerto Rico which will establish a network of disaster mental health professionals across New York and Puerto Rico through a collaborative training project.  By providing joint disaster mental health training and field experience to forty graduate students, the project will help prepare the next generation of disaster mental health professionals in both New York and Puerto Rico.  The combined training experience will also create professional relationships among disaster mental health responders in New York and Puerto Rico that will strengthen future disaster response initiatives.

“The rapid onset of COVID-19 combined with increased instance of natural disasters prove just how important it is to be prepared for unprecedented circumstances,” Governor Hochul said.  “In particular these experiences have shone a bright light on the importance of mental wellness and I’m proud to launch this partnership with Puerto Rico to boost mental health resources.  Having trained professionals waiting in the wings will prove invaluable in the event of future disasters.”

A 3-credit graduate course entitled Disaster Mental Health Field Experience will be offered by SUNY New Paltz, to be held at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedrascampus.  The course will be taught by Dr. Amy Nitza, Director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health at SUNY New Paltz and will include:

  • 5 students from the SUNY New Paltz Counselor Education and/or Advanced Certificate in Trauma and Disaster Mental Health programs
  • 5 CUNY graduate students in Counseling
  • 10 students from the Rehabilitation Counseling program at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras

During this two-week course, students will receive training in disaster mental health theory and practice and the history and current sociopolitical context of Puerto Rico, and then gain practical experience providing training in Psychological First Aid to community based organizations throughout Puerto Rico.  Through the program, students will also earn a badge/microcredential in Mental Health and Psychosocial Support.

The course will be offered twice: once over the 2021-2022 winter break, and once during Summer 2022.