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May 8, 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

St. Joe's, BHSN receive major federal grants - North Country

Long Island Group Homes For The Disabled Overcome Coronavirus Challenges

COVID-19 Death Rates Higher Among Those with Developmental Disabilities - Onondaga

County aims to address mental health, substance abuse with online resources amid COVID-19 - Monroe

VA offers mental health care online - Steuben

Immigrants tackle COVID, mental health concerns while overcoming language barriers - Western NY

Catholic Charities launches COVID-19 helpline as teens experience mounting stress and pressure - Western NY
Mental Health Specialists See Growing Demand for Services

In an effort to assist people struggling to cope amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Psychological Association released advice for processing news related to the outbreak in by March. On their website, the organization recommended keeping things in perspective, staying connected and seeking additional help as needed.

"Individuals who feel an overwhelming nervousness, a lingering sadness, or other prolonged reactions that adversely affect their job performance or interpersonal relationships should consult with a trained and experienced mental health professional," according to the association's guidelines.  "These professionals work with individuals to help them find constructive ways to manage adversity."

Yet with social distancing protocols in place statewide following Gov. Andrew Cuomo's New York State on PAUSE executive 
order on Sunday, March 22, face-to-face visits with mental  health experts is no longer viable.
Diane Johnston, LCSW-R,
DCS, Ontario County

As a result, many clinicians have needed to come up with  digital  workarounds to meet patient  needs, according to Diane Johnston, director of Mental Health with Ontario County. Read more here .

Crisis Counselors, the 'Paramedics of Mental Health,' Wage a Wrenching Battle on the Coronavirus Front Lines

Missouri crisis counselor Lauren Ochs was just starting her overnight shift one night last month when a man called from a distant state hard-hit by Covid-19. With slurred, incoherent words - and a heavy Upper Midwest accent she could barely make out - he told Ochs he had tried to kill himself earlier in the evening.

She knew she had to act fast, so put the man on hold while she Googled the town where he said he lived. She could not find it. Staving off her own anxiety, she called emergency services in his state and pronounced the name of the place just as the man had. Fifteen minutes later, the dispatcher told Ochs that her team had located the caller and was taking him to the hospital.

The most iconic images of the coronavirus pandemic are, by now, familiar: the exhausted doctors peering from behind a 3D-printed face protector; the nurses covered in garbage bags; the brave first responders who arrive, sirens blaring, to help yet another person who is gasping for air. But there is a much less visible group of professionals, people like Ochs, who are on the front lines of a mental health crisis every bit as wrenching as medical battles waged every day in hospitals. Read more here.
New York Governor Implored to Extend Foster Care Past Age 21 During Pandemic

For young people in New York foster care, turning 21 is too often a sign that they are truly on their own in a world that hasn't been kind to them.  And that was before coronavirus.

Sadaf Sheikh will turn 21 in two weeks - eight long years after first entering foster care. Since January, when she got her own apartment in public housing, Sheikh said she's been pressured by caseworkers to age out of the system "as soon as possible." Months have gone by without receiving her regular stipend.
A group of statewide legal advocates wants to prevent these desperate, often hidden situations. They are now imploring the governor to declare a moratorium on automatically cutting off young people like Sheikh who turn 21 during the pandemic.

Without steady support, they fear hundreds of young New Yorkers will age out of foster care amidst the punishing coronavirus pandemic - which has infected at least 318,000 New Yorkers and killed nearly 20,000 - leaving them to seek shelter on their own. Those with no one to call on now risk joining the desperate homeless, who ride the subway at night, huddle under scaffolding, or jostle for a place in crowded city shelters where the virus has already spread. Read more here.

What Agencies Are Doing to Support the Mental Health of Their Employees


May 12, 12 - 1 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

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

Supporting Older Adults Part 3: Elders Speak
May 14, 2 - 3:30 pm, Academy of Peer Services
NYC Peer Workforce Series Session 1: Getting the Conversation Started
May 20, 12 - 1:30 pm, Academy of Peer Services

May 20, 1 - 2:30 pm, OMH

May 24, 10 - 11 am, OMH

NYC Peer Workforce Series Session 2: Building a Plan
May 27, 12 - 1:30 pm, Academy of Peer Services

May 27, 3 - 4 pm, NAADAC

Using PSYCKES Recipient Search
May 28, 10 - 11 am, OMH
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 10, 12 - 1:30 pm, Academy of Peer Services

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

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

June 24, 3 - 4 pm, OMH


MAY 2020

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

JUNE 2020

Executive Committee Meeting
June 3: 8 am, GTM

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

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and Go To Meeting information, 518.462.9422 
Next Round Of Stimulus Could Include Aid To Counties

During a Zoom press conference this week, organized by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz made a grim comparison.

Poloncarz said that Erie County has more cases and deaths than Pennsylvania's Alleghany County, home to the city of Pittsburgh, or Ohio's Cuyahoga County, home to the city of Cleveland. And both of those counties are home to 300,000 more people than Erie County.

"So, it's not just on a per capita basis that we're worse," he said. "It's also on a general gross basis."

Both Poloncarz and Duchess County's Marc Molinaro made it clear that if aid doesn't arrive soon from the federal government, they will have to furlough workers. Read more here.

New York Waives Mental Health Costs for Frontline Pandemic Workers
Co-pays, deductibles and any other out-of-pocket costs for mental health services for frontline pandemic workers will be waived by state insurance regulators.

The move announced over the weekend by the Department of Financial Services comes more than 50 days into the pandemic hitting New York, with hospital and health care workers taking the brunt of the spread of the disease not just on their physical health, but taxing them emotionally and mentally. Read more here.

Additional article of interest: Cuomo to waive mental health copays for essential workers
NYSAC Report: Lost Revenue and State Aid Cuts

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of our society, government and the economy like no other event in our lifetimes. In March, the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) completed an initial economic analysis of the coronavirus on counties. This report updates and expands that initial analysis to account for the extended public health emergency and prolonged economic slowdown.

Click here to view the full report.

Emergency Drug Overdose Visits Associated with Increased Risk for Later Suicide

NIH-funded study highlights importance of emergency department-based interventions for mitigating suicide risk

A new data analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health finds patients who visited the emergency department for an opioid overdose are 100 times more likely to die by drug overdose in the year after being discharged and 18 times more likely to die by suicide relative to the general population. Additionally, in the year after emergency department discharge, patients who visited for a sedative/hypnotic overdose had overdose death rates 24 times higher, and suicide rates 9 times higher, than the general population. The findings, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, highlight the need for interventions that reduce suicide and overdose risk that can be implemented when patients come to the emergency department. Read more here.
Injectable Buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder: Effects on 1-Year Recovery Outcomes
FDA approves first once-monthly buprenorphine injection for OUD
An extended release version of buprenorphine was recently approved by the FDA to treat opioid use disorder. Prior research has revealed the short-term benefits of buprenorphine on traditional treatment outcomes like substance use and acute harm (e.g., overdose). Building upon this literature, the current study assessed the longer-term effects of monthly buprenorphine injections on patient-centered outcomes like quality of life and health status, suggesting improved well-being up to 1 year of treatment. Read more here .
Integrating Care for Dually Eligible Individuals Matters Even More in the Face of COVID-19

In early 2020, states and their federal and health plan partners were well-positioned to advance the significant progress in Medicare-Medicaid integration achieved in recent years. COVID-19, however, has stalled some efforts, shifting state attention to critical pandemic response. Yet those populations most vulnerable to the virus - older individuals with multiple chronic conditions or functional limitations, people with disabilities, and residents of nursing facilities - are largely dually eligible. For these individuals the need for coordination across physical and behavioral health care, access to long-term services and supports, and programs that address social support needs is more critical now than ever.

The COVID-19 crisis shines a light on existing gaps in care, system fragmentation, and lack of coordination between Medicare and Medicaid. In doing so, it is highlighting both opportunities for states to better serve dually eligible populations as well as new resources that states will require to be ready to act to respond to these opportunities, rebuild systems, and improve integrated care. Read more here.
The Coronavirus Pandemic is Pushing America Into a Mental Health Crisis

Three months into the  coronavirus pandemic, America is on the verge of another health crisis, with daily doses of death, isolation and fear generating widespread psychological trauma.
Federal agencies and experts warn that a historic wave of mental health problems is approaching: depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide.

Just as the initial coronavirus outbreak caught hospitals unprepared, the country's mental health system - vastly underfunded, fragmented and difficult to access before the pandemic - is even less prepared to handle this coming surge.

"That's what is keeping me up at night," said Susan Borja, who leads the traumatic stress research program at the National Institute of Mental Health. "I worry about the people the system just won't absorb or won't reach. I worry about the suffering that's going to go untreated on such a large scale." Read more here.
Rural America's 'Double Whammy' of Dealing with Mental Health Crises During a Pandemic

In late March in Knox County, Tennessee, nine people died of suicide within a span of 48 hours. Dr. Martha Buchanan, director of the county's health department, was visibly upset as she announced the news.

"If there's anybody out there who's struggling, I encourage you to reach out. Reach out to your pastor, your friend," she said.

At the time, Buchanan couldn't confirm if the deaths coincided with the rising concern over COVID-19. She advised the community to be kinder to one another, to call people rather than text. A few days later, a local congressman decided to do something bold: He posted an invitation on Twitter for people to call him on his cell phone.

"If you feel like you're going to hurt yourself or maybe hurt somebody around you, why don't y'all just call me. Let's talk," Rep. Tim Burchett said in the video.

Over the next few days, he received more than 1,000 calls-- not just from people in Eastern Tennessee -- and he had the numbers for various resources handy in case people needed more than a friendly ear. Read more here.
FAIR Health Launches Monthly, Interactive Tool Tracking Telehealth Across US Regions

This week FAIR Health launched the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, a new, interactive  feature on its website Drawing on FAIR Health's database of over 31 billion private healthcare claim records-the largest such repository in the nation-the tracker will offer insights into the month-by-month evolution of telehealth in every region of the country, especially now as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses.

As a venue of care that permits healthcare services to be delivered without in-person contact, telehealth is expected to expand dramatically as people take precautions against COVID-19. A national, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information, FAIR Health is in a unique position to open a window into telehealth. Already, FAIR Health has published a  white paper on telehealth, studied telehealth in its series of  FH® Healthcare Indicators and FH® Medical Price Index white papers, and, in a  brief on COVID-19, analyzed telehealth in the context of the pandemic. Read more here.
Looking Ahead-Addiction Treatment In The Post-Crisis Recovery
Reading the tea leaves, so to speak, is the job of our senior team at OPEN MINDS. But I will admit to getting "mixed signals" (or is that mixed tea leaves) when it comes to addiction treatment in the post-crisis recovery. What do we know?

First, the demand for addiction treatment will likely spike. Social distancing is a risk factor for relapse because consumers self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to ease the stress. A lack of face-to-face services, methadone clinic shutdowns, and increases in poverty raise the mortality due to opioids, while opioid-induced diminished lung capacity raises the mortality of COVID-19. Excessive alcohol misuse is also expected to increase.

Second, virtual services are likely to stay. In March alone, telehealth visits surged 50% due to the pandemic emergency -including virtual addiction treatment services. The question is, what proportion of those visits will remain virtual post-pandemic crisis and what proportion will be face-to-face, in what settings? Historically, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) guidelines have been used to answer that question. But recent guidance from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration may change those assumptions. 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.