New York state officials will hold a series of listening sessions as well as a spring summit to discuss mental health issues facing young people in the state, Gov. Kathy Hochul's office on Thursday announced. 

Hochul this year at the same time has called for $1 billion to strengthen mental health care programs as part of the state budget this year. 

The listening sessions and summit come after three years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and concerns children in particular were negatively affected by the upheaval of the public health crisis. The event goal is to develop policy solutions to the issue, Hochul said. 

"As New York State's first female governor and the only mother to hold this office, I'm deeply disturbed by recent reports on instances of teen depression - especially following the isolation and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic," Hochul said. "It's time we put the mental wellbeing of our youth at the forefront and listen what they're going through to gain a deeper understanding of this issue and meaningfully address the problems young New Yorkers face."

The effort will be backed by the state Office of Mental Health and the Office of Children and Family Services. The summit is scheduled for May, coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Month. 

"Governor Hochul's executive budget provides an historic investment into mental healthcare," said Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. "At the center of this transformation is a commitment to listen to individuals experiencing mental health challenges. Youth mental health has been seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and other stressors."