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May 22, 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

Jefferson County officials report 'alarming' suspected overdose activity

Grant helps counseling service assist more people - Herkimer

Capital Region Overdoses Linked to Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine

AHRC NYC Telehealth Program Is Perfectly Timed - NYC

VIP Community Services Receives SAMHSA Grant to Expand Behavioral Health Services - NYC

39,000 NYC students with disabilities attend school year-round. Their parents are bracing for the summer.
Staten Island to get $12M health center - NYC

Nonprofit eyes eight-story supportive housing complex near a hospital in Brooklyn - NYC

Coronavirus Causing Spike in ODs on Long Island

Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research Center Opens as Demand for Substance Use Disorder Treatment Rises During COVID-19 Pandemic - Long Island

Stony Brook Uses New Strategy to Aid Those with Disabilities During COVID-19 - Suffolk

Research Team Lands $3.5 Million NIH Grant for Imaging Study of Depression - Suffolk

Greece Family Embraces Behavioral Telehealth Services During Pandemic - Monroe
Albany County's Mental Health Crisis Team Offers Support in Midst of Pandemic
Stephen Giordano, Ph.D.
Albany County DCS
As with the pandemic, the suffering may be worldwide for workers in the front lines fighting the coronavirus who now may have to wrestle with mental-health problems.

"There have been some traumatic events in the health-care profession across the world - some notable suicides," said Stephen Giordano, Ph.D., the director of Albany County's Department of Mental Health, at Saturday's county press briefing.

The World Health Organization released a  report last week about the need for action in mental health in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report notes that frontline health-care workers and first responders have been exposed to numerous stressors and says that ensuring the mental health of health-care workers is a critical factor in sustaining COVID-19 preparedness, response, and recovery. 
The general public is suffering, too, from the anxiety of being in isolation, the stress of jobs lost and schools closed, and worry about the future. Read more here.
Amid Stress and Solitude of Pandemic, a Safe Place to Call in Western NY
A pedestrian on Kensington Avenue, in Buffalo, amid the pandemic. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)
The life-changing question of the moment, to Jessica Pirro, becomes one of definition.

She is chief executive officer of Crisis Services of Buffalo, whose mission is built around 24-hour crisis intervention for people going through the hardest moments of their lives.

Pirro understands the way many Western New Yorkers interpret the purpose of the agency, which serves Erie County, manages the Chautauqua County hotline and provides after-hours support in Niagara County.

She knows Crisis Services is often seen as a last stop, a place to which you turn only when trapped in the most anguished corner, a call you make only if you feel every option for hope has been extinguished.

The 24-hour hotline is 834-3131. Certainly, emphatically, Pirro wants anyone staggered by such desperation to call that number. Read more here.
Partnership in Value-Based Care: Becoming and Finding Good Teammates

A 'Pandemic's-worth of Triggers' Are Causing an Increase in Relapses Across the Country. Here's How Appalachians Are Coping.

In a World 'So Upside Down' the Virus Is Taking a Toll on Young People's Mental Health

Youth Who Get Job Skills Training Less Likely to Use Drugs In Long Run

Emergency Room Visits for Drug Overdose Linked to Increased Risk for Suicide Later

Post-Detox Treatment Lowers Mortality in Opioid Use Disorder

Financial Incentives Increase X-Waiver Training, Buprenorphine Prescription Rates

A New Normal: Understanding the Challenges of Children with IDD
Is the Pandemic Sparking Suicide?

The mental health toll of the coronavirus pandemic is only beginning to show itself, and it is too early to predict the scale of the impact.

The coronavirus pandemic is an altogether different kind of cataclysm - an ongoing, wavelike, poorly understood threat that seems to be both everywhere and nowhere, a contagion nearly as psychological as it is physical. Death feels closer, even well away from the front lines of emergency rooms, and social isolation - which in pre-Covid times was often a sign of a mind turning in on itself - is the new normal for tens of millions of people around the world.

The ultimate marker of the virus's mental toll, some experts say, will show up in the nation's suicide rate, in this and coming years. Read more here.


May 24, 10 - 11 am, OMH

May 26, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

Tackling the Trifecta - How States Address Co-Occurring SUD, HIV, and Hepatitis C
May 26, 2 - 3 pm, National Academy for State Health Policy

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

Exploring Stages of Disruption: Service Shifts and Responses to COVID-19, Including Innovations Beyond the Pandemic
May 27, 4 - 5 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

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

Social Determinants Of Health And Peer Support: Playing A Role In Mental Health Treatment And Recovery During The COVID-19 Pandemic
May 28, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

Improving Access to Medication for Opioid Use Disorders (MOUD) for Young People
May 28, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

COVID-19 Behavioral Health Series: Considerations for Early Intervention and Management of Patients
May 28, 2 - 3 pm, HANYS

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

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

June 10, 12 - 1:30 pm, Academy of Peer Services
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

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


MAY 2020

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

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 
Pandemic Threatens to Deepen Crisis in Mental Health Care

More than three weeks after Brandon Bell stopped showing up at a New York office that serves people with schizophrenia, employees finally located him at a nearby homeless shelter.

The office remains open, but patients aren't stopping by as much during the pandemic. Group activities such as the weekly Caribbean lunch that were also an important source of food have ended because of the coronavirus. Visits from caregivers are less frequent and shorter - usually five or 10 minutes - to reduce the risk of infection.

When a caregiver recently checked on him, Bell noted that life before the pandemic was happier and "more social."

His experience highlights the challenges for caregivers and patients as the pandemic strains the nation's mental health care system. Even before COVID-19, access to mental health services in the U.S. could be difficult, including for people who have insurance. Now experts fear the virus will make the situation worse, putting the patients most in need at risk of falling through the cracks and inflicting on countless others newfound grief, anxiety and depression. Read more here.
CLMHD 2020 Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) Instructor Certification Program - Now Accepting Applications!
In an effort to reduce the stigma of mental illness and expand the number of people trained to teach Youth Mental Health First Aid in New York, the Conference is once again providing scholarships for to up to 30 individuals throughout the state to participate in a 5-day YMHFA Instructor Certification program. 

The training will be offered the week of  October 5, 2020  in
Albany, NY. CLMHD will cover the cost of the training, materials, meals and lodging for attendees.  A "blended training" will once again be offered for up to six individuals who are already certified as Adult MHFA instructors - these participants will only be required to attend the first 2.5 days of the training.

If you or someone you know is interested in applying, click  here
for the application. The deadline for submission is July 24, 2020. Completed applications are to be signed by your county's  Director of Community Services (DCS) for approval, then forwarded to CLMHD for review by a YMHFA Advisory Committee. Individuals will be notified of their selection by August 28, 2020 and must commit to the requirements established by the committee. 

For more information, please contact Francine Sinkoff at CLMHD at
Federal Funding Tops List of Behavioral Health Concerns

As the House of Representatives advances a $3 trillion coronavirus aid package, New York's behavioral health providers and advocates remain bullish on the need for more funding.

State Sen. Pete Harckham, chairman of the Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, last Friday  stated concerns that the latest round of federal relief would allocate $100 billion to hospitals nationwide, but only about $3 billion for mental health support. He pointed to the discrepancy between the latter figure and the  nearly $40 billion needed to help the already strained sector.

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 recently told Crain's. Read more here.

Office of Mental Health Launches Digital Campaign to Promote COVID-19 Emotional Support Helpline

The NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) this week announced a series of digital public service announcements to raise awareness of the agency's Emotional Support Helpline (1-844-863-9314). The Helpline was implemented at the direction of Governor Cuomo to assist New Yorkers who are overwhelmed by the anxiety and loss caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

As of May 18, more than 14,000 New Yorkers had called the Helpline since its launch on March 25. Helpline volunteers have been trained to help people cope with the typical stress reactions brought on by the COVID-19 emergency and can provide tips on managing anxiety, dealing with loss and strengthening coping skills. Helpline volunteers can also provide referrals for mental health services. Read more here.
'I Can't Turn My Brain Off': PTSD and Burnout Threaten Medical Workers

The coronavirus patient, a 75-year-old man, was dying. No family member was allowed in the room with him, only a young nurse.
In full protective gear, she dimmed the lights and put on quiet music. She freshened his pillows, dabbed his lips with moistened swabs, held his hand, spoke softly to him. He wasn't even her patient, but everyone else was slammed.

Finally, she held an iPad close to him, so he could see the face and hear the voice of a grief-stricken relative Skyping from the hospital corridor.

After the man died, the nurse found a secluded hallway, and wept.
A few days later, she shared her anguish in a private Facebook message to Dr. Heather Farley, who directs a comprehensive staff-support program at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del. "I'm not the kind of nurse that can act like I'm fine and that something sad didn't just happen," she wrote.

Medical workers like the young nurse have been celebrated as heroes for their commitment to treating desperately ill coronavirus patients. But the heroes are hurting, badly. Read more  here.
Measuring Complexity: Moving Toward Standardized Quality Measures for the Field of Complex Care

For the field of complex care to show its value in improving outcomes and to evaluate programs' delivery and impact, there is a need to identify and standardize measures that are used for evaluation and quality improvement. One of the recommendations of the  Blueprint for Complex Care was to develop standard quality measures for complex care programs beyond cost and utilization. 

In response to this recommendation from the Blueprint, the National Center commissioned the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI) to conduct a landscape analysis, interviews with subject matter experts, and a scan of existing quality measurement efforts pertaining to the field of complex care. The resulting  report, 
Measuring complexity: Moving toward standard quality measures for the field of complex care, was written by Heidi Bossley, Faculty at IHI, and Keziah Imbeah, Research Assistant at IHI. The report:
  •  Documents the current state of quality measurement in   complex care;
  •  Identifies key challenges associated with complex care; and
  •  Details current complex care research and measurement   development efforts.
It also contains eight recommendations for next steps the field can take to develop a standard set of quality measures, including a proposed set of measurement domains and subdomains to structure future measure sets. Read more here.
Stuck on a Screen, Therapists Rush to Respond to Mental Health Crises Among Foster Youth
facetime mental health therapy virtual counseling youth therapistsAs New York enters its third month of sheltering at home, mental health counselors serving vulnerable children and families in the foster care system are racing to adapt their tried-and-true methods to a virtual connection. Under the coronavirus shutdown, treating emotional distress means relying on phones, laptops and video platforms that even experienced therapists may have never before used to treat young people.

They've had to come up with some unique approaches.

Clinician Stephanie Olaso of the foster agency Children's Aid, invites one young client to play a quick game of "I Spy" to break up an otherwise lengthy virtual session. She has a teen and her mom call in from separate rooms, so that eye-rolling and other physical reactions don't trigger even greater conflict. With a young woman diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder who is holed up alone, Olaso focuses on day-to-day life rather than dredging up painful memories that could overwhelm her client after they sign out of the session. Read more here.
Strengthening Workforce Capacity: State Actions to Address Opioid Use Disorder during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic has quietly raged on, requiring states to fight a costly, two-front war. While states have rallied to ensure that opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment remains accessible, organizational and workforce challenges persist and the resources and revenue needed to address them are rapidly changing.

Gaps in treatment infrastructure and behavioral health workforce shortages have historically challenged states' OUD treatment delivery. In the midst of the pandemic, states are optimizing current flexibility and supports for their behavioral health workforces to help maintain treatment access during the COVID-19 pandemic, while also monitoring how or whether these new strategies will be maintained in the future.

This article reviews a variety of approaches states are taking to increase access to treatment and address workforce shortages by expanding job descriptions, offering flexible training, and changing licensing requirements. Read more here.

United Hospital Fund: The Virus Has No Boundaries: How COVID-19 Affects People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, delivered a sobering take on how long the coronavirus outbreak would last: "You don't make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline." COVID-19 is not only making its own timeline-it is preying on our communities indiscriminately, unraveling our fabric and undermining our foundations. This is certainly true for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including those with cognitive deficits, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, epilepsy, neurological impairment, and autism-as well as the nonprofit agencies who provide for their care in the community.  

At the very heart of the IDD field over the last several decades is the concept of integrated community living-the development of group residences in neighborhoods. Now, the very thing that is a hallmark of the field has created an additional vulnerability for people with IDD during the COVID-19 crisis. Read more here.

Telehealth - Not For Everyone
With the rush to virtual services in the face of the pandemic crisis, there is wide agreement that the increased use of telehealth and virtual visits will remain a fundamental part of the service delivery system after the crisis fades.

But in recent discussions with our team and our advisory board members, it has become clear-based on their experience in the field over the past seven weeks-that telehealth is not the optimal solution for every consumer. In this discussion, we're not talking about access to broadband internet or digital literacy issues. We're talking about consumers with characteristics that make virtual interaction with clinical professionals a less than optimal treatment modality. This is a challenge for the current crisis period and also a factor for planning for post-crisis recovery.

So who is in this group of consumers? Our discussions have resulted in a short list-including consumers with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), paranoia, anxiety disorders, and consumers with sensory and communication difficulties. 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.