December 4, 2020
Albany County Forms New Program to Handle Mental Health Calls

Albany County officials are launching a pilot program to have social workers and Sheriff's EMS workers respond to mental health, addiction and other non-violent 911 calls.

The program, called the Albany County Crisis Officials Responding and Diverting program, will start out with two social workers being added to the county’s Mental Health Department.

The teams will respond to calls in the Hilltowns as well as the outskirts of Guilderland, Bethlehem and Coeymans, where sheriff's deputies are typically the primary responders.

Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce said the program was a way to respond to calls for changing how police in the county handle mental health crisis calls. Read more here.
Report: Innovative Solutions to Address the Mental Health Crisis: Shifting Away From Police as First Responders

Several recent incidents underscore the risks when we expect police to resolve incidents involving people experiencing crises associated with behavioral health or developmental disorders. Sometimes the results are tragic, such as the death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York, the shooting in Utah of a 13-year-old boy with autism, and the killing of Walter Wallace in Philadelphia. Such episodes raise questions about what role – if any – police should play in such cases.

A significant part of the problem is the long-standing, inadequate level of mental health services in the United States. A 2019-2020 report produced by The Blue Ridge Academic Health Group, which advises academic medical centers, draws attention to the sharp reduction in the number of inpatient psychiatric beds since the 1960s. It was intended that such “deinstitutionalization” would be accompanied by increased community-based care, but that has been insufficient. Read more here.
Sticker Shock: The Cost of New York’s Youth Prisons Nears $1 Million Per Detainee

A dozen years ago, New York state revealed that taxpayers were shelling out $140,000 to $200,000 each year to house each young person in the state’s juvenile facilities. Many of these supervised residential centers and deeply troubled youth prisons lined with razor wire and high-security locked gates were less than half full.

The state’s Office of Children and Family Services described in a 2008 report with a cover showing rows of empty beds, why some of the facilities needed shutting down: Public money could be far better spent on investments such as six first-year teachers, six caseworkers, or four undergraduate degrees from the public university system.

Today, that once-shocking price tag has grown four-fold to almost $900,000 a year for some of those detained, making New York’s youth lockups the most costly in the nation. Read more here.
NYS DOCCS Job Opportunity

The position of First Medical Director of NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) is available for a physician with methadone treatment experience. This essential role will help ensure that people in the state prisons will have access to life-saving medications for opioid use disorder. This important change within the state prison program can not start until the position is filled.

Please find information here.

December 8, 1 - 2:30 pm, The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)

December 8, 1 - 2 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

December 9, 1 - 2 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

December 9, 3 - 4:30 pm, OMH

December 10, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

December 10, 3 - 4 pm, OMH

December 11, 12 - 1:30 pm, OMH Suicide Prevention Office

December 15, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

December 16, 12 - 1 pm, Coordinated Care Services, Inc.

December 16, 1 - 2 pm, OMH

December 16, 3 - 4:30 pm, Homeless & Housing Resource Center

December 17, 2:30 - 4 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

December 18, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health


OPWDD Agency Day
December 7: 2 - 4 pm, GTM

Children & Families Committee Meeting
December 15: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and GoToMeeting (GTM) information, 518.462.9422 
CLMHD Responds to Creation of a NYS Office of Behavioral Health

CLMHD provided comments and recommendations to the Commissioners of OMH and OASAS in response to recent series of listening tours around the State’s consideration of establishing a unified behavioral health services agency. 

The DCSs see first-hand the difficulties brought about by an individualized structure of service-regulation and delivery. The consolidation of OMH and OASAS into one single agency, if paced appropriately and includes meaningful stakeholder engagement, could significantly offset the sharp increases in mental health and addiction services needs and help lower State and Local costs.  

Click here to read CLMHD's comments.
New York to Establish Frontline Workers Trauma Council

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday signed into law a bill that will require the state to create an advisory council that will identify evidence-based tools to track the trauma of COVID-19 on frontline workers.

A.10629A/S.8608A, which passed the state Assembly and Senate in July, amends the state’s mental hygiene laws to establish a volunteer council focused on identifying mental health supports for frontline workers. The law requires the commissioners of the state departments of labor, health, aging, developmental disabilities, addiction services, corrections and children and family to participate in the council, along with members appointed by the governor, speaker of the assembly and president of the state senate. Read more here.

Cuts to Developmentally Disabled Services Could Go Deeper Amid Pandemic

Cuts to services to people with developmental disabilities could have a far wider impact amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For people living in group homes, visitations are made more complicated.

And the difficult budget is not making matters any easier. "We're talking here about people here with disabilities, but just about every family in New York state has someone in their family who is affected by someone with a type of disability," said Assemblyman Tom Abinanti. "If you follow facts, if you follow the science, you see New York is not doing what it should be doing for people with disabilities."

At issue is the potential for withholding spending in the Medicaid program amid an historic budget crisis and multi-billion dollar budget gap that needs to be filled next year. Read more here.
Understanding Impacts of COVID-19 on Substance Use Disorder and Treatment

A Rutgers expert discusses the many impacts of COVID-19 on people with substance use disorder and what treatment providers, policymakers and researchers are doing to help

In the midst of an ongoing nationwide opioid crisis, the global COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted people with substance use disorders – and particularly opioid use disorders. Social distancing requirements, shelter-in-place orders and the many unknowns about this coronavirus have created challenges for ensuring access to prevention and treatment services.

“The COVID-19 pandemic created additional challenges for people with substance use disorders and those at risk of developing problems, but treatment providers, policymakers and researchers have been working to find new ways for people to get the help they need during this time,” said Hillary Samples, a faculty member of the Center for Health Services Research at the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research and an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health. Read more here.
The Long-Term Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health

As the United States struggles anew to contain COVID-19, concerns are growing regarding its long-term impact on mental health. Local reports cite increases in domestic violence calls and opioid overdose. Crisis hotline use is also rising, with some reports of staggering spikes. For example, calls to Los Angeles suicide and mental health hotlines have increased 
8,000 percent. Modeling has suggested that the pandemic will lead to as many as 75,000 deaths from alcohol and drug misuse and suicide, increasing the total of COVID-related deaths.

While national data are sparse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Household Pulse Survey 
suggests that the proportion of U.S. adults with symptoms of anxiety disorder and/or depressive disorder have quadrupled since before the pandemic, with the burden disproportionately borne by women and people of color. Read more here.
Co-prescribing Naloxone Will Save Lives

The term “co-prescription” isn’t in our lexicon or our laws – but it should be in both. Co-prescription refers to having doctors prescribe one pharmaceutical with another to the same patient at the same time. With the ongoing opioid crisis there is strong medical advice encouraging co-prescribing of naloxone – the only FDA approved opioid overdose reversal agent – when treating patients with significant risk factors. These at-risk patients are defined by the CDC as those under past or present treatment for a substance use disorder, are receiving a significant opioid dosage; or are also taking a benzodiazepine prescription, such as Xanax or Valium.

Based on the CDC’s criteria New York has almost 800,000 people who meet the definition of at-risk for an opioid overdose, while only approximately 10,000, or only about 1.5 percent, were also prescribed a naloxone. Read more here.
Community Health Needs Emerge for Families Managing Opioid Use

Investing in community health programs and designing opioid use disorder (OUD) public health interventions with families in children in mind will be important for closing key gaps in care, according to a new report from the Urban Institute.

Specifically, lapsing community health supports are making it difficult for parent caregivers with OUD to engage in evidence-based OUD and substance use disorder (SUD) care. Limited community health programming is also damaging to children whose parents or caregivers have OUD or SUD.

“The opioid epidemic is one of the largest public health crises in a generation, and it takes place against a backdrop of deep and growing structural inequality in the nation’s social, economic, and political landscapes,” the report authors began. “To date, most of the response to the opioid epidemic has focused on people directly affected by problem drug use and addiction.”

But that approach is allowing a substantial population of parent or guardian caregivers with OUD or SUD—and the children from whom they care—fall through the cracks, the authors suggested. Read more here.
HHS Clarifies Debated Provider Relief Fund Reporting Requirements

HHS is addressing Provider Relief Fund reporting requirements that have left recipients questioning how they can spend the financial aid from the federal government.

The federal department clarified in several Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) published on the HHS website last week that expenses for capital equipment and inventory “may be fully expensed only in cases where the purchase was directly related to prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus.”

For providers, that means they can use aid from the Provider Relief Fund to cover the expenses of ventilators and other intensive care unit equipment they needed to respond to the public health emergency. Read more here.
It Keeps Health Plan Managers Up At Night. What Is ___? 

Our advice for executives of specialty provider organizations in these times of great turbulence is to double down on relationships with health plans, accountable care organizations, and other payers. But the pandemic has changed the needs, and expectations, of payers and health plans. And, the competition is increasing (see When Chased By A Bear In The Woods and Bigger Is Not Always Better—Except For Most Of The Time). This landscape is both a threat and an opportunity for provider organizations. The threat? Losing market share with health plans and payers by not realigning services to keep up with the competition. The opportunity? Redesigning service approaches to address the new needs and expectations of health plans and payers, and building new revenue streams.

My big question is what is it that health plans are looking for in 2021? For answers, we turned to Erin Boyd, the Behavioral Network Strategy Director for Cigna. In the United States, the company covers 14 million consumers on the commercial side and 1.4 million consumers through government plans. Cigna’s network includes almost 200,000 behavioral health provider organizations—and has doubled in size over the past five years. She spoke to our team about Cigna’s needs and expectations in the post-COVID era. 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.

Affiliated with the NYS Association of Counties (NYSAC)