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April 17, 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

Citizen Advocates offers free mental health services for health care workers, first responders - Franklin

Mental health crisis 911 calls go up as coronavirus isolation continues - Capital Region

Video: Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins, Community Mental Health Commissioner Michael Orth discuss mental health during the COVID-19 Pandemic - Westchester

Coronavirus Leads to Jump in People Seeking Mental Health Assistance - NYC

Vulnerable communities, like those in group homes, deal with COVID-19 - Westchester & NYC

RISE Recovery Center goes digital during coronavirus outbreak - Central NY

Local concerns rising over mental health, education amid pandemic, poverty watchdog finds - Monroe

School Counselors Provide 'Comfort, Reassurance' - Chautauqua

Adding a pandemic to a crisis: mental and behavioral health services readjust to coronavirus - Erie
NYS Office of Mental Health Releases Parity Compliance Toolkit

The New York State (NYS) Office of Mental Health (OMH) has developed a Parity Compliance Toolkit to support insurers, providers, and consumers in understanding parity and NYS' efforts toward achieving mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) parity compliance. This toolkit is a compilation of Federal and State information and resources regarding MH/SUD parity in the State of New York.
The NYS Office of Mental Health Parity Compliance Toolkit is accessible on the OMH main parity webpage
The Coronavirus Crisis in the Psychiatric Ward
Psychiatric Hospital
Hollie, 25, is disabled and struggles with mental illness; over the past few years, she estimates, she's been hospitalized nearly 40 times. Last week was one of those times.

When Hollie presented at the ER, she says, she was struggling with thoughts of taking her own life, in large part due to the isolation of self-quarantining during the  coronavirus pandemic. It took her seven hours to be admitted, in part because the hospital in the Iowa city where she lives had cut its number of available beds in half, as a way to adhere to social distancing measures. The staff, she says, was "terrified," and discussed with the patients not having access to available personal protective equipment (PPE) after a potential exposure the week before.

"They were always making sure they wouldn't come near us," she says. "The only thing anyone would talk about is how long this could possibly last." Read more here.
[NIH Supported] Landmark study of adolescent brain development renews for additional seven years

Jail and Prison Challenges During COVID-19

Experimental Drug Shows Promise for Schizophrenia

To Battle Isolation, Elders and Children Connect as Pen Pals

With Casinos Closed, Gambling Addicts Look for Ways to Cope


April 20, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

Integrating Peer Support to Expand the Workforce for Individuals with Behavioral Health Challenges - Part 2
April 20, 1:30 - 2:30 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

Benefiting from COVID-19 Lending Programs: A Practical Guide for Healthcare Organizations
April 20, 2 - 3 pm, Manatt Health
Supporting Older Adults Part 2: Life Transitions
April 20, 3 - 4:30 pm, The Academy of Peer Services

The Critical Role of Mentors in Veterans Treatment Courts
April 21, 12 - 1:30 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

1135 Waivers in Action: Flexibilities, Limits and Next Steps for States and Providers
April 21, 1 - 2 pm, Manatt Health

April 21, 3 - 4 pm, Prevention Technology Transfer Center Network

PSYCKES Access and Implementation
April 22, 11 am - 12 pm, OMH

Designing a Law Enforcement-Friendly Crisis Service
April 22, 2 - 3 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

April 23, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

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, 3 - 4 pm, OMH

May 6, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

Best Practices for Drug Courts: Implementing Effective Programming for People with Methamphetamine Use Disorder
May 13, 2:30 - 4 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center


APRIL 2020

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

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 
CLMHD Analysis of FY2020-21 Executive Budget

On April 3rd, two days past the start of the State's new fiscal year, the Legislature approved a $177 billion "crisis" budget amidst a pending revenue shortfall estimated at $10-$15 billion due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Several of the Governor's priorities outlined in his Executive Budget proposal were not approved as part of the Enacted Budget, including cannabis legalization and the authorization to shift Medicaid costs on to the counties.

The last few weeks leading up to final negotiations, the Governor and Legislature had suggested moving towards a bare bones/fiscal only budget in the wake of the financial uncertainty created by the COVID-19 virus. However, just days before the budget was due, lawmakers pivoted and agreed to include several policy initiatives that included various changes to bail reform, a ban on vaping products, and a single statewide formulary for opioid addiction medications, just to name a few. Read more here.
Mother Cabrini Foundation: 2020 Grant Portal is Open; Includes Coronavirus Emergency Support Grants

The Mother Cabrini Foundation is pleased to announce that its  online grants portal is now open and accepting Letters of Inquiry for eligible applicants for our Statewide Grants Program through June 3rd.

In addition, recognizing that many organizations across the state are working to assist those impacted by coronavirus, organizations may submit proposals for projects related to the COVID-19 pandemic via the online portal.  

More information on how to be considered for a Coronavirus Emergency Support Grant can be found by visiting the FAQs on our website.  Letters of Inquiry for our Statewide Grants Program and for the Coronavirus Emergency Support Grants will be submitted through the same online form.
Not-for-Profit Human Services Providers - Performance Requirements for Funding during COVID-19 Disaster Emergency

Certain New York state agencies will be able to amend contracts for human services providers struggling to meet  performance requirements because of the coronavirus. Nonprofits must document the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on their respective agencies. The new rules apply to the following state agencies for contracts awarded before March 7: the Office of Children and Family Services, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, the Office of Mental Health, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, the State Office for the Aging, the Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health.
New York Lifts Another Barrier to OUD Medication Treatment

It appears that an inequity in the application of prior authorization requirements for medication treatments for opioid use disorder (OUD) in New York state has been erased, according to a communication from the office of State Sen. Pete Harckham.

Harckham reported on Tuesday that the newly enacted state budget for fiscal year 2021 establishes a single state formulary under which medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for OUD will not be subject to prior authorization under Medicaid. Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year signed  legislation barring prior authorization for drugs such as buprenorphine in the private insurance market, but another measure that would have eliminated use of prior authorization under Medicaid did not go forward.

Harckham, who chairs the state Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, has been a primary backer of the effort to lift insurance barriers to evidence-based treatment for OUD. Read more here.
United Hospital Fund: Will COVID-19 Change the Way We Look at Mental Health and Substance Misuse?

For at least 60 years, behavioral health leaders have been educating, advocating, and at times, pleading with the physical health care system to see people for who we are-beings with biological, psychological, and social needs (a concept known as "biopsychosocial"). We've gained ground over that time and have found ways to connect these needs through work that advances a "whole health approach." Yet, we have fallen short. Stigma surrounding mental health and substance use is a powerful force that drives people away from accessing care and into the shadows. The U.S. health care system has failed to connect the dots and to see the emotional dimensions of health care that make us human; these aspects influence the choices we make every day and can all too often lead to illness and early death. Social determinants and behavioral health interventions are mascots on the field of health care but are not really seen as players. 

Starting on March 1, 2020, COVID-19 changed everything. A pandemic of epic proportions in New York City is creating a major shift in behavioral health that no one saw coming. Read more here.
America's Other Epidemic 
A new approach to fighting the opioid crisis as it quietly rages on
photo of Nikki King
Nikki King was 17 years old when she left the mountain hollow where she was raised by her grandparents and sneaked off to the University of Kentucky under cover of darkness. It was 2009, and the advice of her late grandmother Sue King echoed in her head as she drove: Leave. Go to college. And do not let anybody from the bigger, wider world think they're better than you.

Sue died of a heart attack in 2000, when Nikki was 9. The opioid epidemic had already begun to infiltrate eastern Kentucky by then, and in Nikki's mind the drug problem turned into a drug crisis shortly after Sue's death, when her family went from sleeping with the screen door unlocked to buying new doors-without glass panes, which could be knocked out by burglars. Around that time, Nikki went to a birthday party where her friend's mom stumbled and smashed the cake into the kitchen counter. Nikki later found her passed out on the toilet, surrounded by vomit and pill bottles.

By high school, Nikki had just one friend who lived with both parents. She remembers a teacher asking her classmates what they wanted to be when they grew up. Read more here.
The CARES Act Brings Key Changes to the SUD Confidentiality Statute

At the end of March, President Trump signed into law the third coronavirus stimulus legislation, a $2 trillion package known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). While the legislation focused on providing both economic stimulus to the nation's beleaguered economy and assisting the healthcare sector in combating COVID-19, the expansive law also included a number of provisions that do not directly relate to the COVID-19 crisis.

One of the most important of such provisions is Section 3221, which changes federal law regarding the confidentiality of substance use disorder (SUD) records. Since the 1970s, the federal SUD confidentiality statute (the SUD Confidentiality Law) has been one of the strictest privacy laws in the country, requiring written consent for nearly all types of disclosures of information. This stands in contrast to the privacy rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which allows for disclosures of protected health information without written authorization in a wide variety of circumstances. Read more here.
Coronavirus Pandemic Breakout Moment for Virtual  Mental Health Care

With the coronavirus pandemic causing unprecedented levels of stress and grief, companies offering virtual mental health care say they're seeing a massive surge in interest - and are scrambling to meet that demand by introducing new services, accelerating launch timelines, and bringing more staff on board.

Covid-19 could prove to be a breakout moment for these businesses, which had been trying to address the shortage of in-person mental health care by providing virtual coaching, monitoring, and educational content long before the coronavirus outbreak. If the companies can bring in more users and corporate customers now, they might convince them to stick around after the pandemic is over. But that depends on whether the companies -whose mental health offerings have been relatively small in scale up until now - can handle the uptick in demand. Read more here.
Pandemic Highlights Need for Proactive Health Care, Tech Companies Say

As the Covid-19 pandemic strains providers and shines a light on disparities, health care technology companies hope investments made now will benefit their business later.

Health tech firms across the city were coming off funding rounds and client wins in the months before the virus struck, but now they've turned their attention to responding to new requests and rolling out more offerings in a matter of weeks.

The long-term result they're looking for is greater industry-wide recognition that their digital tools can help drive better results.

"The health care industry was caught flat-footed," said Adam Sabloff, founder and CEO of Manhattan-based VirtualHealth. "Moving forward they'll need additional screening tools."

VirtualHealth provides a software-as-a-service platform designed to help health plans and other clients  identify interventions to reduce preventable issues. It launched in 2012 and now has 9 million members being managed by its clients. It has  raised about $25 million to date. 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.