cover image 2
July 31 , 2020
CLICK HERE for Links to State Guidance and Updates on COVID-19
Advancing Public Policies for people with Mental Illness, Substance Use Disorder and/or Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities
Connect With Us:
Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter    View our profile on LinkedIn
Francine Sinkoff, Editor
Rise in child abuse and neglect concerns North Country primary prevention program

Ulster County police reform panel discusses mental health, mistreatment issues

Drug treatment counselor discusses substance abuse during pandemic - Rockland

Syosset's Psychiatry Unit to Remain Temporarily Closed - Nassau

New Behavioral Health Center Coming to Oswego County

Deadly mix of fentanyl, isolation, unemployment, could be driving opioid overdoses - Onondaga

Erie County alerts community to deaths due to suspected cocaine plus opioid overdoses

WNY Mental Health Funding Looms in the Balance of a Federal Stimulus Bill
New York's Medicaid Enrollment Surges to an All-Time High

New York's Medicaid program is growing at its fastest rate in six years, with a quarter-million additional enrollees landing in the safety-net health plan during the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Enrollment for May rose to  6,321,246, the highest monthly total recorded on the state Health Department's  main website or through its  data portal. (Monthly updates formerly published by the Medicaid Redesign Team show the slightly higher number of 6,366,170 for  December 2015.)

The May rolls were up 261,000 or 4.3 percent since February - the fastest rise since early 2014, when the Affordable Care Act took full effect.

The trend is likely driven by the pandemic-induced recession, which caused 
more than 1 million New Yorkers to lose their jobs and, in many cases, the health benefits that went with them.

If the surge continues, it could further deepen the deficit faced by the state government, which has lost  billions in revenue. Read more here.
FDA Says Opioid Labels Must Include Information About Naloxone

The Food and Drug Administration announced last week that it would require drug manufacturers to include information about naloxone, the overdose-reversal medication, on the labels of opioid painkillers.

The move comes just weeks after the federal government released new data showing that U.S. drug overdose deaths reached an all-time high in 2019, surpassing the previous peak recorded two years earlier. More recently, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to another increase in overdose deaths as the unemployment rate has skyrocketed and Americans have lost access to health insurance and to many in-person health services like addiction clinics or syringe exchanges. Read more here.
New Harris Poll Survey Offers Insights into Potential of Telepsychiatry During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic
As the use of telehealth services has expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic, results from a new survey conducted by The Harris Poll showed that more than one in four (27%) U.S. adults surveyed were currently using telepsychiatry ("telepsych") services for mental health care. Among those respondents who reported current use of telepsych services ("telepsych users"), 62% agreed* that they would not be able to get the care they needed without telepsych services and 67% agreed* that telepsych services have helped them maintain their treatment regimen (such as taking their medication and accessing other support services). Nevertheless, education and awareness barriers exist and both telepsych users and non-telepsych users surveyed agreed* that they wished they knew more about accessing telepsych services (65% and 37%, respectively). The findings released this week offer insights into both the potential promise and challenges of telepsych as a complementary behavioral health option to standard in-person care, during and after the pandemic. Read more here.

'Mental Illness Is Not An Excuse, But It Is A Reason': How To Talk About Kanye West's Behavior

Thoughts Of Suicide, Other Mental Health Struggles Still High For LGBTQ Youth

Forty percent of young LGBTQ people have considered suicide in the last year; that rises to more than half for trans and non-binary youth.

That's according to the second annual survey on LGBTQ youth mental health by  The Trevor Project. The non-profit organization provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ people under the age of 25.

Two years of data isn't enough to show trends, says clinical psychologist Amy Green, who is also the director of research at The Trevor Project. But what they do show, she says, is that "the numbers are high and staying high, in terms of mental health."
"LGBTQ youth already deal with housing instability, food insecurity and trouble accessing health care," she says. "All of that is exacerbated by a pandemic." Read more here.

Using PSYCKES Quality Indicator Reports
August 4, 10 - 11 am, OMH

Complex Trauma: The Connection Between COVID-19 and Social Unrest
August 5, 12:30 - 1:30 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

Increasing Effective Clinical Supervision for SUD Treatment Providers
August 5, 3 - 4 pm, NAADAC

Using PSYCKES from Home
August 7, 10 - 11 am, OMH

Transform to Teleservices: Part I-Expanding Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatment in Drug Courts
August 11, 1 - 2:30 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

August 12, 2 - 3 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

Using PSYCKES for Clinicians
August 12, 1 - 2:30 pm, OMH

PSYCKES Access and Implementation
August 18, 11 am - 12 pm, OMH

August 18, 1 - 2:30 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

Implementing a Peer Mentor Program: Strategies for Engaging Peer Recovery Support Specialists in Adult Treatment Courts
August 31, 12:30 - 2 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center



Addiction Services & Recovery Committee (ASR) Meeting
August 13: 11 am - 12 pm, GTM

Children & Families Committee Meeting
August 18: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and Go To Meeting (GTM) information, 518.462.9422 
Governor Cuomo Appoints Westchester County Commissioner Michael Orth to NYS Behavioral Health Services Advisory Council (BHSAC)

T he Conference would like to congratulate DCS, 
Michael Orth, MSW, Commissioner of Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health, who was nominated by Governor Cuomo and confirmed by the Senate to the New York State Behavioral Health Services Advisory Council (BHSAC). Michael leads several planning efforts in Westchester including serving as Co-Chair of the Suicide Prevention and Awareness Task Force, Coordinated Children's Services Initiative (CCSI) Committee, Developmental/ Intellectual Disabilities Committee, Psychological Mental Health Response Team, and Westchester County's Response to Opioid Task Force. Michael serves on several NY State behavioral health advisory committees and is currently 2nd-Vice Chair of the Conference as well as Chair of the CLMHD Children and Families Committee. 
New York Counties to Congress: No Skinny Bill 

On Wednesday, the New York State Association of Counties called on Congress to reject proposals to pass a stripped down "skinny" coronavirus relief bill and come to an agreement on a recovery package that provides local governments with direct, flexible aid to offset a steep loss of revenues and increased costs associated with fighting COVID-19 locally.

Earlier this week, NYSAC released an updated economic impact report that shows counties and New York City facing a catastrophic $13.5 billion loss in revenue over two fiscal years that could lead to significant cuts to services and permanent layoffs, slowing the economic recovery and threatening gains made against the virus. This is terrible news for New York and the United States as the taxpayers of New York are major donors to the United States Treasury.

The report also notes that State and local governments are major employers and provide nearly 12 percent of all U.S. jobs. Economists have noted that in the last downturn, during the Great Recession, the federal government's austerity approach and prematurely ending financial assistance to states and local governments contributed significantly to the slow recovery, both in employment terms and contributions to gross domestic product.

Additional articles of interest: 
Governor Cuomo Issues Letter to New York's Congressional Delegation Calling on Them to Ensure $500 Billion in Unrestricted State Aid is Included in Any Senate Passed Relief Package

NACo releases analysis of Senate HEALS Act
Mental Health, Addiction Service Providers in New York Say Senate Bill Won't Help

A coalition of advocates that provide services to people with mental health and addiction problems blasted the proposed coronavirus stimulus legislation in the U.S. Senate for not including money to aid state and local governments in the country. 

The groups, which are already modestly funded in New York, are facing potentially steep cuts in aid if New York does not receive direct support from the federal government to offset the billions of dollars in lost tax revenue. 

"Millions of children are missing their routines, activities and education," the groups said. "Taken nationally, countless Americans are facing foreclosures, bankruptcies, broken families, serious depression and ever rising rates of suicide and fatal drug overdose-all while the COVID virus continues to spread." Read more here.

HHS Provides More Details on Provider Relief Fund Reporting

HHS recently shared additional information on Provider Relief Fund reporting requirements for healthcare organizations that received financial support under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and subsequent legislation.

notice shared last week by the federal department stated that healthcare organizations that received one or more payments from the Provider Relief Fund exceeding $10,000 in aggregate will have to submit reports to HHS detailing the use of the funds and compliance with payment terms and conditions.

The  CARES Act and  Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act allocated a total of $175 billion to the Provider Relief Fund. The fund included $50 billion in general distribution payments, which went to approximately 335,000 Medicare providers based on their net patient from years past, as well as targeted distribution payments for rural hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, safety-net hospitals, and hospitals in COVID-19 hotspots. Read more here.
As Mobile Mental Health Teams Work to De-escalate Crises, Some Warn their Models Still Rely on Police Partnerships

In the wake of nationwide demonstrations against police brutality, there has been a surge in interest in making sure mental health providers, not law enforcement, are the ones to respond to a psychiatric crisis.

It's a strategy that mental health organizations have been sharpening for decades. Dozens of cities across the country have what are known as mobile crisis units, which deploy trained professionals to respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis with compassion and clinical expertise.
Now, with their work thrust into the spotlight, mobile crisis teams have been flooded with calls from other communities hoping to replicate their models.

"I think the timing, the mood of the country is right to take some significant steps," said Angela Kimball, the national director of advocacy and public policy at the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Mental health professionals say the need is urgent: A  2016 study estimated 
that 22% of fatal police encounters followed calls about an individual's "disruptive behavior" directly due to mental illness or substance abuse. Longtime mental health workers say the models offer a safer, more compassionate way to help those in crisis - and can prevent needlessly violent and traumatic encounters in the process.  Read more here .
The Coronavirus Seems to Spare Most Kids From Illness, but its Effect on Their Mental Health Is Deepening
Older children, who understand the perils of the pandemic, may require more care than toddlers
Pandemics can be indiscriminate, with viruses making no distinctions among the victims they attack and those they spare. If you're human, you'll do. COVID-19 has been different, particularly when it comes to age. The disease has shown a special animus for older people, with those 65-plus considered at especially high risk for hospitalization and death, and those 18 and below catching a semblance of an epidemiological break. Though a small share of adolescents have suffered severe cases, most who contract the disease in that age cohort are likelier to experience milder symptoms or none at all.

But if COVID-19 is sparing most kids' bodies, it's not being so kind to their minds. Nobody is immune to the stress that comes with a pandemic and related quarantining. Children, however, may be at particular risk. Living in a universe that is already out of their control, they can become especially shaken when the verities they count on to give the world order-the rituals in their lives, the very day-to-dayness of living-get blown to bits. Read more here.

Additional article of interest:  Pandemic Takes Toll on Family Mental Health
STUDY: Saving Lives by Launching Buprenorphine Treatment in the ED: What Clinicians Need to Know 

It's a scene that's repeated countless times every day across the U.S. Siren blaring, an ambulance jolts to a stop at the entrance to a hospital emergency department (ED). Two paramedics jump out, open the back door, retrieve a young man strapped on a gurney, and wheel the gurney into the ED. 

A doctor hurries over. The lead paramedic calls out, "Apparent heroin OD; naloxone, 4 mg intranasally, 3 minutes ago. Unconscious, breathing..."

The patient is whisked into an examining room, given another 4 mg naloxone..
A few minutes later he opens his eyes and looks around the room... Another life has been saved-for now. The patient will be monitored until he has fully recovered-and what happens next could mean the difference between life and death. 

The ED staff have choices. One choice, the usual one, is to send the patient home, perhaps with some brochures and phone numbers.
But discharging someone after an opioid overdose, without offering medication treatment, could mean losing a chance to save a life. A study published in June in Annals of Emergency Medicine found that more than 5% of patients treated in an ED for a nonfatal overdose (OD) died within the year-many of them within the first few weeks. About two-thirds of the deaths were the direct result of an opioid-related overdose. Read more here.

"If we think what we are doing today will serve us tomorrow, then we will not be here tomorrow." This comment, made at The 2020 Strategy & Innovation Institute keynote address Innovation By Design: Capturing Value In Health Care by Carl Clark, M.D., chief executive officer of the Mental Health Center of Denver (MHCD), are words of wisdom for every executive team member of a specialty provider organization. Innovation is no longer a luxury, it is a strategic survival skill.

The pandemic has sped the need for innovation in service delivery. On one hand, it has changed "customer preference" (both consumers and health plans) for services-more virtual, more home-based, and more data-driven. On the other hand, many organizations have been busy introducing new services designed for these changing times. There are four announcements that caught my attention, each an example of a game changer for specialty provider organization market positioning:

  • Optum's purchase of AbleTo. An on-line behavioral health service delivery system now owned by a major health insuring organization, UnitedHealth Group.
  • Heal's launch of "Heal Pass". A program that offers physician house calls and next day shipping of medications for a monthly fee of $49 dollars.
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.