Editor's note: Mental Health Musings (MHM) will focus on community resources and stories throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As New York’s legislative session continues, several bills aim to change mental and behavioral health care at schools, prisons, hospitals and in the community. This list is not exhaustive. 

Senate Bill S5301A: Sen. Samra G. Brouk, D-NY introduced this bill, which is currently in the higher education community. 

The bill would allow mental health counselors who received their license after June 13, 2026, and mental health counselors who met the requirements of this bill, to diagnose and develop assessment-based treatment plans. 

Senate Bill S4412: Sen. Rachel May, D-NY introduced the bill, which would establish an outreach and education program for Alzheimer’s. 

The bill would help medical and non-medical professionals identify signs of the disease earlier, provide information and assistance in the community for caregivers. 

The COVID-19 pandemic exasperated the mental health strain of dementia caregivers who were often isolated from support networks. 

The bill passed the Senate on March 24 with 63 votes in favor and 0 votes against it. 

Senate Bill S5209: Sen. Kevin Parker, D-NY sponsored the bill, which is also called the "Minority Mental Health Act."

It would establish a minority mental health division within the New York Office of Mental Health that would be responsible for assuring mental health services and programs are culturally and linguistically meeting the needs of marginalized groups. 

The bill was referred to the mental health committee on Feb. 26. 

Senate Bill S2836: Known more commonly as the ‘HALT’ Solitary Confinement Act, Sen. Julia Salazar, D-NY sponsored the bill, which limits solitary confinement to 15 days, creates Residential Rehabilitation Units, eliminates segregated confinement for at-risk groups including those 21 and under, those 55 and over, individuals with a disability or those who are pregnant, up to 8 weeks postpartum or have a child at the facility. 

Solitary confinement including suicidal ideation, self-harm, paranoia, depression, and hallucination, according to extensive research. 

The bill passed the senate and was delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo on March 19. 

The ‘HALT’ Act will bring New York up to international standards under the United Nations' Nelson Mandela Rule.