Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Addressing New York City’s Mental Health Workforce Shortage Using a Unique Workforce Development Training Model

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

March 13, 2024




In Progress



In recent years, New York has invested significant resources in expanding mental health care access, but an acute mental health workforce shortage is stymying those efforts.

The shortage affects hospitals and outpatient settings across the State, at all levels of the mental health care workforce, including for entry-level positions like psychiatric social health technicians (psychiatric technicians). Psychiatric technicians play a role in caring for patients with mental illnesses and/or developmental disabilities. They alleviate the burden on nurses and other clinical staff and promote safety by assisting patients with activities of daily living, providing coverage for 24-hour monitoring of high-risk patients, and conducting wellness checks. While demand for this work is forecasted to grow, the employee pipeline is inadequate. The workforce development sector has long recognized the value of supporting individuals with lived experience (e.g., homelessness, mental health disorders) to fill frontline positions, but these workers often face discrimination in the employment process and lack the training and support to manage their personal challenges. In 2024, NYHealth awarded Project Renewal a grant to pilot a workforce development training program to help address mental health workforce shortages in New York City while also creating a career pathway for individuals who have lived experience with homelessness, substance use disorder, justice system involvement, and/or mental illness.

Under this grant, Project Renewal will partner with NYC Health + Hospitals (H+H) to launch a first-of-its-kind psychiatric technician work training program. Project Renewal will recruit participants for a training program focused on patient care, health care settings, and executive functioning. To ensure participants can complete the training program, Project Renewal will provide comprehensive wraparound services such as housing support and transportation. H+H will host an intensive internship program that will create a pipeline for employment; successful participants are expected to be hired for technician positions upon completing the internship. Project Renewal will use the training program as a proof of concept to advocate for a New York State-approved program model paving the way for Project Renewal and other health systems to expand the program.