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May 29, 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
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Francine Sinkoff, Editor

'We are all going through this:' Albany County mental health hotline helping hundreds

Experts: Addiction Services Not Being Used Enough During Pandemic - Capital Region

Capital Region heroin-related deaths outpace COVID-19 deaths, says Albany County Sheriff

Ryan wants mental health beds restored - Ulster

Treatment Centers Go Virtual to Assist Those Suffering From Addiction - Broome

Suicide Rate in New York Prisons Last Year Rose to Highest Level in Decade, Data Shows
New York had its highest number of suicides last year since 2010, when 20 people killed themselves behind bars.
The suicide rate in New York State's prison system last year rose to its highest level in nearly a decade, with 18 inmates taking their own lives, the Daily News has learned.

It was the most suicides since 2010, when 20 people killed themselves behind bars. The number of incarcerated New Yorkers has dropped by more than 10,000 since 2010, meaning the rate of suicide last year was actually higher than it was in 2010. Read more here.
10 Eye-Opening Statistics On The Mental Health Impact Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

Even before the term COVID-19 had entered our vocabulary, burnout, stress, and anxiety were significant issues in the workplace, and society generally. Throw the pandemic's mental health impact into the mix, and work-related stress is likely to reach staggering levels in the coming months. Business leaders need to brace themselves for this aftershock and be prepared to meet a dramatically heightened need for support and services.

"There's no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic will be the most psychologically toxic disaster in anyone's lifetime," says George Everly, who teaches disaster mental health and resilience at Johns Hopkins. "This pandemic is a disaster of uncertainty, and the greater the uncertainty surrounding a disaster, the greater the psychological casualties." Read more here.
Telepsychiatry Often Offered Alongside Regular Care

Forced Social Isolation Causes Neural Craving Similar to Hunger

Foster children face multi-layered trauma during pandemic

Experts Fear Increase in Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders

'He's Incredibly Confused': Parenting A Child With Autism During The Pandemic

Drug overdose deaths drop in U.S. as other deaths of despair rise, report finds

Few patients receive follow-up after opioid overdose

New York's Other Crisis During Coronavirus Pandemic: Mental Health
June 2, 2 - 3 pm, City & State New York

ACT and COVID-19: Meet Up for ACT Mental Health Authorities, Funders, TA Centers (includes Lead Fidelity Reviewers)
June 2, 3 - 4 pm, MHTTC Network
Enable Access to Client-Level Data in PSYCKES
June 3, 10 - 11 am, OMH
NYC Peer Workforce Series Session 3: Keeping the Action Active
June 3, 12 - 1:30 pm, Academy of Peer Services

June 3, 1 - 2 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

June 3, 2 - 3:30 pm, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors

June 4, 3 - 4 pm, SMI Advisor

Connecting to Care - How to Leverage Quitlines to Better Support Your Clients
June 8, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

Videoconferencing to Deliver Treatment and Recovery Services
June 9, 12 - 1 pm, ATTC Network

June 10, 12 - 1:30 pm, Academy of Peer Services
Defining and Assessing Integrated Behavioral Health Capacity
June 10, 1 - 2 pm, ATTC Network
Implementing Best Practices and Improving Collaboration for Crisis Care and Suicide Prevention among High-Risk SMVF
June 10, 1:30 - 3 pm, SAMHSA's Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families Technical Assistance Center

Using PSYCKES for Clinicians
June 11, 2:30 - 4 pm, OMH

Using PSYCKES Quality Indicator Reports
June 17, 2 - 3 pm, OMH

June 18, 1 - 2 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

June 23, 1 - 2 pm, Manatt Health

Data Sharing Among Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health Partners-Addressing Data Sharing Agreements and Confidentiality Concerns
June 24, 2 - 3 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

June 24, 3 - 4 pm, OMH

Navigating System Cultures across the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM)
June 26, 2:30 - 4 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

Improving Cultural Competence across the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM)
June 29, 2:30 - 4 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center


JUNE 2020

Executive Committee Meeting
June 3: 8 am, GTM

Children & Families Committee Meeting
June 16: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

DCS Mentoring Workshop: "Housing 101"
June 18: 9 am - 12 pm, GTM

JULY 2020

Developmental Disabilities Committee Meeting
July 9: 1 - 2:30 pm, GTM

Mental Hygiene Planning Committee Meeting
July 14: 1 - 3 pm, GTM

Children & Families Committee Meeting
July 21: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and Go To Meeting information, 518.462.9422 
SUNY and Office of Mental Health Partner to Launch Crisis Text Line and Training Initiative to Help SUNY Community Promote Mental Health Awareness During COVID Pandemic

The State University of New York and the NYS Office of Mental Health on Wednesday announced the launch of a crisis text line and training initiative, two resources designed to help promote mental health awareness, ease stress and anxiety, and identify and support individuals at risk of suicide. SUNY advanced its promotion of the resources in order to assist students, faculty, and staff as they confront the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Slowing the spread of COVID-19 has called for a series of sudden shifts to how we live, work, study, and interact," said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. "Though this transition is necessary to keep people safe, there may be an unintended, psychological impact of these changes on many of our students, faculty, and staff. We thank the New York State Office of Mental Health for their partnership in providing these resources to our SUNY family." Read more here.
Harckham in Senate Speaking on Bill to Ensure OASAS is Included in Emergency Planning

New legislation (S. 8363) sponsored by New York State Senator Pete Harckham guarantees that the state Commissioner from the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) will be included as a member of the state's disaster management team was approved unanimously in the Senate. Here is Senator Harckham speaking in the Senate prior to voting on the bill.
Methadone Deliveries Now Part Of NYC's Public Health Mission
A label on a bottle of methadone.
For the first time, the city of New York is facilitating delivery of methadone to patients who would otherwise be required to go pick up their medication at a clinic, a move designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 among high-risk populations.

The new NYC Opioid Treatment Program Methadone Delivery System is a collaboration between the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the New York State Offices of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS), the agency that oversees use of methadone to treat addiction to opioids, such as heroin and prescription painkillers like oxycodone.

Around 28,500 people are enrolled in methadone clinics, or Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs), in NYC. Read more here.
WMCHealth Provides $1 Million in Grants

The Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) today announced $1 million in grants to 10 Hudson Valley organizations to address behavioral health and substance use disorders, primary care accessibility and engagement, and linkages to social determinates of health services, such as housing and food security.

Part of the New York State "promising practices" initiative, these grants are designed to help WMCHealth partners develop sustainable models and services as they transition from the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment, or DSRIP, program.

"DSRIP was established to help improve patient outcomes and reduce avoidable hospital use," said WMCHealth President and CEO Michael D. Israel. "As one of the leading DSRIP programs in New York, WMCHealth and its partners have made considerable progress toward that goal over the last five years, including strengthening relationships between healthcare providers and community-based organizations. Much of our continuing work is now even more critical as we strive to address issues that have been exacerbated or elevated by COVID-19's impact on the Hudson Valley." Read more here.

Additional article of interest:  WMCHealth extends DSRIP work with $1M in grants
In Upstate New York, Child Welfare Agencies Chart a Cautious Course Toward In-Person Services

After nearly two months of shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, much of New York state began reopening in the last week, with the exception of hard-hit New York City, Long Island and the Lower Hudson counties. This has been a complex task for upstate child welfare agencies working with vulnerable families and children placed in foster care, with new challenges to sort out.

Can kids visit with the parents they've been removed from, and if so where and how? What kinds of health checks should be required for clients entering an office to receive services?

With minimal state or federal guidance, social service agencies have had to get creative.

Youth residential facilities have held outdoor movie nights, and spray-painted rows of colored dots across the lawn so that children can play individual games of Twister. Caseworkers have peered through windows and screen doors to check in with foster children without entering their home. Read more here.
More People Are Taking Drugs for Anxiety and Insomnia, and Doctors Are Worried

Prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications and sleep aids have risen during the pandemic, prompting doctors to warn about the possibility of long-term addiction and abuse of the drugs.

"Many physicians have a low threshold for prescribing them. It's very problematic," says Bruce J. Schwartz, deputy chair and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. "Many people do develop a dependency on these medications."

Prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications, such as Klonopin and Ativan, rose 10.2% in the U.S. to 9.7 million in March 2020 from 8.8 million in March 2019, according to the latest data from health-research firm IQVIA. Prescriptions for antidepressants, including Prozac and Lexapro, rose 9.2% to 29.7 million from 27.2 million in the same period. Read more here.
Leveraging Prospective Payments to Address Provider Financial Shortfalls: The Role of Managed Care Organizations

Many providers are facing financial shortfalls due to  postponed elective surgeries  and  decreased patient visits  during the COVID-19 pandemic. While some aid is available through the  CARES Act  and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), many providers, especially  safety net practices  serving Medicaid members, are experiencing dire fiscal problems that may lead to closure. Much of the financial crisis confronting providers is due to the fee-for-service model that reimburses providers based on patient visits in many managed care contracts.

Managed care organizations (MCOs) have an opportunity to improve this situation by transitioning to prospective payment, wherein providers are paid upfront - typically on a per member per month (PMPM) basis - to care for members. As a result, prospective payments can give providers the flexibility to do what they need to do during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it's treating patients in hard-hit areas, or delaying elective surgeries and focusing on urgent/critical care. Such payments also allow providers the ability to substitute telehealth visits for in-person visits for prenatal care, behavioral health counseling, or well visits without decreasing compensation. Read more here.
There are many "rules" that are being bent in this time of crisis. One of them not getting much attention is a recent announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it will temporarily approve a range of digital health devices intended to aid treatment for mental health disorders.

The new rule waives the need for tech developers to submit a 510(k) premarket notification, corrections and removals requirements, registration requirements, and unique device identification requirements. The crisis waiver applies to two categories of digital devices during the duration of the crisis:
  1. Computerized behavioral therapy and other digital health therapeutic devices for psychiatric disorders
  2. Low-risk general wellness and digital health products for mental health or psychiatric conditions
According to the FDA, this would make digital therapeutic apps and "low-risk" telemedicine tools for mental health more available. But this does not apply to any technology that either replaces psychiatric care or treats urgent psychiatric conditions. 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.