New York state is providing $9 million in loan repayments for mental health care workers in an effort to recruit and retain psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners, Gov. Kathy Hochul's office announced. 

The money is part of a program meant to provide repayments of up to $120,000 for psychiatrists and $30,000 for psychiatric nurse practitioners. They must remain employed by licensed community mental health programs for three years in order to qualify. 

"Part of the largest ever investment in health care, the Community Mental Health Loan Repayment Program will allow us to build a more equitable health care system," Hochul said. "This funding will provide our partners in communities across the state with the resources they need to attract top-tier workers and then keep them employed in our state, so we can grow our workforce and ensure all New Yorkers have access to the highest quality of care."   

The newly hired staff as well as existing workers on staff, including part-time workers, are eligible to receive repayment awards. Providers can apply for loan repayment on behalf of the staff, with applications being reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

The money is meant to boost the state's health care workforce, which has struggled in the wake of the pandemic. Providers have had difficulties retaining and recruiting staff in the state, and New York is spending $20 billion over the next several years to expand the workforce. 

The Office of Mental Health has spent more than $21 million in federal aid in the last 12 months in order to expand recruitment and retention programs. 

"Community-based mental health care providers continue to be impacted by the nationwide shortage of healthcare workers, and the demand for psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners continues to grow," said Dr. Ann Sullivan, the commissioner of the Office of Mental Health. "The Community Mental Health Loan Repayment Program will help our partners meet this growing demand by helping to attract and retain these essential professionals."