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April 24, 2020
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Advancing Public Policies for people with Mental Illness, Substance Use Disorder and/or Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities
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Francine Sinkoff, Editor

Online, Coping With The New Normal - Albany

Citywide savings plan scales back mental health, youth programs - NYC

Broome County encourages residents to seek mental health services

Cayuga County sees 4 drug overdose deaths in 8 days. Is it the isolation of coronavirus shutdown?

Department of Community Services available to help those with mental health issues - Cattaraugus
Trauma On The Pandemic's Front Line Leaves Health Workers Reeling

The scene at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx is unlike anything psychiatrist Bruce Schwartz has seen. Everyone, even interns and nurses in training, have been tapped to tend to the flood of COVID-19 patients, who are crashing and dying at rates comparable to the front line of a battlefield.

His hospital treats a highly vulnerable minority population - where rates of obesity and diabetes also run high - meaning infected patients face an especially high risk of death.

"We're very much in the center of the epidemic," Schwartz says. Overworked and burned out, hospital staff are all coping with horrific tragedies playing out multiple times on a single, 12-hour shift. "It is really a very horrendous experience that no one could possibly be prepared for," Schwartz says. Read more here.
These Texts Show The Devastating Impact Of The Coronavirus On People's Mental Health

The coronavirus outbreak has so far led to more than 28,000 deaths in the US, but the reach of such an unprecedented crisis extends far beyond the devastating physical damage of the disease.

Across the country, people are anxious about their finances, uncertain about the future, grieving over the loss of loved ones, fearful about their own health, and feeling lonely and isolated in statewide lockdowns during the pandemic.

Crisis Text Line, a service that provides free, 24/7 mental health support through text messages, has seen a 40% increase in the volume of texts sent by people seeking help over the past three weeks in the US. Read more here.
Top Considerations for SDOH Screening, Referral Technologies

Study Provides a Fresh Look at Mental Health Preparedness and Service Use Among Older Adolescents in Foster Care

These Texts Show The Devastating Impact Of The Coronavirus On People's Mental Health

Lithium in a Time of Coronavirus

Suicide Accounted For 31% Of Jail Deaths & 6% Of Prison Deaths In 2016

One-third of PCPs question efficacy of medications for opioid use disorder
Kaiser Family Foundation Brief Examines the COVID-19 Crisis' Implications for Americans' Mental Health

Nearly half (45%) of adults across the country say that worry and stress related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are hurting their mental health, an early sign that the health and economic crises is likely to increase mental health problems and further stretch the system's capacity.

new issue brief explores how the crises and related measures to protect public health, including social distancing, business and school closures, and shelter-in-place orders, are likely to affect Americans in different circumstances, including those already living with, or at risk for, mental illness or substance use disorder. Read more here.


April 28, 1 - 2 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

April 28, 2 - 3 pm, Open Minds
Use of Telemedicine & Technology in the Treatment of Mental Health During the COVID-19 Crisis - Webinar #1
April 29, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

April 29, 1 - 2 pm, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Health Care

April 29, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

April 29, 3 - 4 pm, OMH

April 29, 3 - 4:30 pm, NAACD

Using PSYCKES Quality Indicator Reports
May 5, 10 - 11 am, OMH

May 6, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

Financial Hope, Financial Shame and Suicide
May 7, 12 - 1 pm, Suicide Prevention Center of New York State

May 12, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

COVID-19: Remapping the Healthcare Privacy Landscape
May 12, 4 - 5 pm, Manatt Health

Best Practices for Drug Courts: Implementing Effective Programming for People with Methamphetamine Use Disorder
May 13, 2:30 - 4 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center
PSYCKES Mobile App for iPhones & iPads
May 14, 12 - 1 pm, OMH

May 20, 1 - 2:30 pm, OMH

Using PSYCKES Recipient Search
May 28, 10 - 11 am, OMH


MAY 2020

Executive Committee Meeting
May 6: 8 am, GTM
Developmental Disabilities Committee Meeting
May 14: 1 - 2:30 pm, GTM

Children & Families Committee Meeting
May 19: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

CLMHD Full Membership Call
May 20: 9 - 11:30 am, GTM

CLMHD Office Closed - Memorial Day
May 25

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and Go To Meeting information, 518.462.9422 
County Leaders Seek Relief Funding In Next COVID-19 Stimulus Bill 

Leaders of county governments are demanding the next round of federal stimulus money contain funds for state and local governments.

The National Association of Counties hosted a conference call Wednesday, with participants upset that the latest federal COVID-19 relief bill, which the Senate agreed to Tuesday, does not include the direct aid to municipal governments they're requesting.

Matt Chase is the Executive Director of NACo... "We're incredibly disappointed that we were left behind and that we were asked to wait until the next package," said Chase.

Chase said the coronavirus pandemic has had a $144 billion impact on county budgets nationwide.  "And just to put that into context and put a human face on it, when we say that counties are facing the challenges in our budgets...what we mean by that, is we employ 3.6 million Americans. Over 1 percent of Americans actually work for county government," said Chase.

The New York State Association of Counties held its own separate press conference Wednesday, demanding the same. NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario explained that in New York, counties are unique in the services they provide and how county governments collect revenue. Read more here.
Behavioral Health Providers Call for Nearly $40B in Federal Relief Funds

Behavioral health providers were already operating on slim margins before the Covid-19 pandemic. Now they're faced with lower revenues and higher costs-and the possibility of pent-up demand.

To help address those challenges, the National Council for Behavioral Health and 40 other industry groups are calling on the federal government to set aside $38.5 billion in relief for the sector. State Sen. Pete Harckham, chairman of the Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, presented the request to New York's congressional delegation.

Nearly $40 billion in funding would help ensure that behavioral health providers can remain open and maintain operations during the pandemic.

Behavioral health providers have been taking in less revenue from patient visits, transitioning as much business as possible to telehealth services and continuing to provide care to patients who have lost their health insurance, Harckham said. At the same time, they are responding to virus-induced fear, isolation and financial insecurity that is exacerbating mental health conditions and substance-use disorder. Read more here.
With Covid-19, Scary Times for Patients, Staff at Psychiatric Hospitals, Group Homes

Even on the best days, life is never easy for the 156 men and women who are inpatients at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.

They are people diagnosed with serious, persistent mental health problems who don't like changes in their daily routines.

Covid-19 has made their lives much tougher.

For now, patients at the Buffalo facility cannot have visits from friends or relatives. The two or three community outings they used to enjoy each week have been stopped. Patients' ability to go outdoors has been sharply restricted, according to people who work there.

The pandemic has also created scary and challenging times for the workers who take care of these mental patients and the developmentally disabled, some of whom need extensive, close-up care. Read more here.

When Mental Distress Comes Home
The pandemic has closed many mental-health residential centers, sending residents home to families ill-equipped for the challenges.

The panic spirals up from somewhere in Connor Langan's midsection, and so quickly that his face changes; wild in the eyes, his upper lip trembling, he sometimes punches a wall in frustration. Such episodes resulted in Connor, 17, being placed on leave from high school late last year, and in early March he agreed to enroll at Mountain Valley, a New Hampshire residential program well known for addressing anxiety problems in young people.

But on March 27, in response to the growing threat of coronavirus, the facility temporarily suspended operations and began sending home some two dozen teenagers and young adults. The facility's therapists have set up virtual connections to continue providing support for some individuals, but the change was abrupt for everyone. Read more here.
How Will Telehealth Fare After COVID-19? 
How will telehealth fare after COVID-19?
Earlier this year, experts in children's mental health gathered in Columbus, Ohio to talk about a pediatric crisis. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death in young people 10-19 years old. Half of the mental illnesses start by the age of 14. One in five children is living with a significantly impairing mental illness.

The 2020 Behavioral Health Summit, hosted by Nationwide Children's Hospital and Children's Hospital Association, focused on building regionally coordinated ways of helping children who need it. Over and over again, these mental health leaders talked about the potential of telehealth.

Approximately 70 percent of American counties don't have a single child psychiatrist, and telehealth could be a crucial tool for reaching families - if only state governments and private insurers would relax certain regulations and reimburse for services at rates that would make telehealth sustainable. Read more here.
'Sound the Alarm': Experts Warn of Suicide Risk Due to Social Distancing

Staying at home and avoiding others is the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19, but it's awful for mental health. A new opinion paper in  A new opinion paper in JAMA Psychiatry
examines how public health best practices during the coronavirus pandemic could lead to an increased risk of suicide.

"Human connection is really good for people and isolation is bad for people," Dr. Ken Duckworth, the medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), who did not participate in paper, told TODAY. "No social interaction will harm mental health, and less connection ... is going to cause additional stress for people."

The paper looks at the coronavirus pandemic and compared it to other national disasters, such as the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Generally, after a traumatic event, suicide rates lower for a brief period of time. But the coronavirus pandemic is different. It comes on the heels of a two-decade increase in suicide rates in the U.S. This, added to a dearth of social connections and a high-stress situation, causes mental health professionals to worry. Read more here.
NYC Educators Brace for Student Mental Health Challenges After Coronavirus Lockdown on Classes Ends

City educators and advocates say the coronavirus crisis is mentally hurting young people the most - and they're worried schools won't be prepared when classes start up again.

"We've had quite a few students who are losing grandparents, students who are caring for parents and grandparents," said a school social worker in Queens who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"Engaging students back in school is going to be very challenging," the social worker said. "We have just experienced a sort of collective trauma."

Mayor de Blasio said last week that a "focus on mental health and support for everyone who's been through this crisis will be crucial to our plan to reopen in September."

But advocates say the city's current approach to dealing with the most severe mental health challenges is drastically lacking. Read more here.
Social Distancing And Challenges With Multidisciplinary, Integrated Care
The April 2020 issue of Health Affairs journal includes the article, 
" Project Nurture Integrates Care And Services To Improve Outcomes For Opioid-Dependent Mothers And Their Children," by K. John McConnell and colleagues. In response to the latest world events, we asked the authors to put their work in the context of the current coronavirus crisis.

Are social distancing and integrated care compatible? While the two are not necessarily at odds, social distancing favors physical separation and a certain type of siloing (even if temporary), activities that may run counter to the conceptual model of co-located, multidisciplinary team practicing warm hand-offs and high-touch care. At the very least, the growing interest in, emphasis on, and implementation of integration in a variety of forms may be slowed by our social distancing efforts. Paradoxically, health care and social service integration, broadly defined, may be even more necessary during pandemic conditions. Read more here.
Coronavirus Crisis Spurs Access To Online Treatment For Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction isn't taking a break during the coronavirus pandemic.  But the U.S. response to the viral crisis is making addiction treatment easier to get.

Under the national emergency declared in March, the government has suspended a federal law that required patients to have an in-person visit with a physician before they could be prescribed drugs that help quell withdrawal symptoms, such as Suboxone. Patients can now get those prescriptions  via a phone call or videoconference with a doctor.

Addiction experts have been calling for that change for years to help expand access for patients in many parts of the country that have shortages of physicians eligible to prescribe these medication-assisted treatments. A federal report in January found that  40% of U.S. counties don't have a single health care provider approved to prescribe buprenorphine, an active ingredient in Suboxone.

2018 law called for the new policy, but regulations were never finalized. Read more here.
The Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors advances public policies and awareness for people with mental illness, chemical dependency and developmental disabilities.  We are a statewide membership organization that consists of the Commissioner/ Director of each of the state's 57 county mental hygiene departments and the mental hygiene department of the City of New York.