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New NYS Legislation Focuses on Strengthening Black Families And Uplifting Generations

By Tracie Isaac /

NYS Senator Samra Brouk stands with members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus celebrates Black History Month and announces legislation that focuses on mental health and the strengthening black families. Photo provided..

Recently the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus (BPHA) and Senator Samra G. Brouk and BPHA Members celebrated the start of Black History Month by discussing their focus on maternal mental health, maternal mortality and uplifting and improving disparate health outcomes among Black families in New York State. 

“The healthcare disparities faced by Black families in our state is a crisis for us all, and requires urgent action,” said Senator Brouk. 

“Black mothers and children are dying and cannot wait any longer for change, which is why I’m proud to support an ambitious family-affirming agenda with the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.”

The legislation package of bills introduced by Senator Brouk addresses maternal mental health needs of New York’s mothers as part of the caucus’ 2022 Legislative Agenda. Brouk said the crisis demands compassionate, immediate change and it’s time to address the crisis head on.

Member of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus . Photo provided.

“Black women are four times more likely to die during childbirth. So while a lot of parents are enjoying this moment of joy expecting their first child, many of us are left to think what if, if, what if we are the statistic? What if we don’t make it? What if our healthcare system fails us?,” she said. 

“And the truth is our antiquated and biased healthcare system has monumentally failed our black mothers and birthing people.” 

Brouk said they will study the existing inadequacies overall for mental health conditions and ensure that the screenings are actually being used for black mothers and maternal parents. Brouk said many people don’t realize that the number one complication for black mothers and birthing people are mental health disorders, maternal mental health conditions, who are twice as likely to experience risks and half as likely to seek help.

She said conditions from complications also most often result in mental, emotional, developmental and verbal complications for the children as well.

Senator Brouk is the first Black woman elected to the State Senate from Upstate New York, and the first Black person elected to the State Senate from the Greater Rochester Area, she is committed to system and policy change that improves health outcomes for communities of color. Senator Brouk is proud to celebrate and make Black history to create a better future for New York’s Black families.

Brouk serves as the Chair of the Mental Health Committee and sits on Health, Education, Elections, Women’s Issues, Aging, and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse committees.

NYS Senator Samra Brouk and members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus celebrate Black History Month. Photo provided.

In a statement from Assemblywoman Michaëlle Solages, Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, she commented that BPHA has put forth an ambitious Agenda representative of the needs of people of color and the immigrant community across the state; noting celebrations during Black History Month recognizes the contributions of Black community members Solages stated, “Let us work together to empower our families of color through transformative legislation.”

Recent legislation presented by Senator Brouk also presented legislation passed by the Senate, was the creation of a Black Youth suicide prevention task force. Surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that as with maternal mental health conditions, indicate the rate for suicide is significantly higher for people of color, in the occurrence of youth suicide.

“I’m proud to stand here on the first day of black history month with my fellow caucus members, as we have put our support behind a package of three separate bills that will not only address the inadequacies and existing screenings for mental health conditions and maternal parents,” Brouk said.

Additional issues discussed by Members of the Caucus included increasing community investment, reforming the criminal justice system and delivering environmental justice in our urban and rural communities. 

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