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May 11, 2016

Advancing Public Policies for People with Mental Illness, Chemical Dependency or Developmental Disabilities   

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Francine Sinkoff, Editor

Walgreens Launches Mental Health Screening Via the Web

Walgreens is launching a mental health platform it says will aim to screen 3 million Americans for mental illness over the next 18 months.

In turning its attention to the nation's shortage of mental health providers, Walgreens is seeking to create its own halo effect, akin to the one archrival CVS gained when it stopped selling tobacco products.
The Deerfield-based drugstore chain has partnered with Mental Health America, a nonprofit based in Alexandria, Va., to add mental health resources to Walgreens' site will offer free screenings for depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses. After completing a screening, customers can connect with someone from Mental Health America for help in scheduling follow-up treatment with a provider in their geographic area.

Walgreens customers will also have the option to take part in a teleconference appointment with a therapist or psychiatrist through or Walgreens' mobile app.   Read more here .  
Troubles Mount for Families of Opiate Addicts When Insurers Won't Pay for Treatment

When a health insurance company canceled a 48-year-old man's medicine to weaken his dependence on heroin, he made a desperate call to his 77-year-old mother. Now she is paying $130 a week for his Suboxone prescription.

A teenager hooked on opioids has been told that his health insurance refuses to cover the full stay for his inpatient treatment. His parents have shelled out thousands of dollars.

Then there is Avi Israel. His son  Michael committed suicide five years ago after the family's health insurance refused to pay for his stay at a detox facility.

At a time when fatal heroin and opioid overdoses have risen to unprecedented rates - 10 suspected opiate overdose deaths a week in Erie County - many area families complain that health care insurers are denying coverage for loved ones seeking medication and inpatient treatment for their addictions.

Many of these denials violate state and federal laws requiring equal treatment for addiction and other mental health illnesses, according to the families of those who are addicted.  Read more here.  
NHIS: 1/4 of Adults w Serious Mental Health Needs Forego Medical Care due to Cost

Preliminary estimates from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that while more Americans with serious psychological distress have acquired health insurance over the past few years, one in 4 forego medical treatment because of cost. This is down from a finding of one in 3 in 2012, possibly resulting from increases in healthcare coverage related to the Affordable Care Act.

Click here to read the full report.
February 2016 CMS Medicaid & CHIP Eligibility and Enrollment Report

According to CMS's monthly Medicaid/
CHIP eligibility and enrollment  report , 72.4 million individuals were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP in February 2016. Nearly 79,413 additional individuals have enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP since January 2016. Click  here  for the report.

In Prince's Age Group, Risk Of Opioid Overdose Climbs

Evidence is mounting that Prince may have died of a drug overdose. While the medical examiner hasn't yet released the results of the autopsy and toxicology scans in this case, opioid overdose in middle age is all too common.

In 2013 and 2014, according to the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people ages 45 to 64 accounted for about half of all deaths from drug overdose. Prince died on April 21 at his home and music studio, Paisley Park, in Minneapolis. He was 57.

Experts say there are a number of scenarios that increase risk of overdose, which is often accidental, for people over 55. Imagine you're in your 50s. You injured your shoulder a while back and it just hasn't gotten better. You take prescription painkillers - an opioid like OxyContin - to help with the pain. Let's say you've been taking it for a couple of years. Your body has built up a tolerance to the drug, and now, you need to change it up to get the same amount of relief. When it comes to the potential for overdose, says Boston Medical Center epidemiologist Traci Green, this is one of the most dangerous crossroads.  Read more here.


May 13, 10:30 am - 12 pm

May 25, 12 - 1 pm

June 22, 12 - 1 pm

June 30, 12 - 1 pm

July 27, 12 - 1 pm
August 24, 12 - 1 pm
September 21, 12 - 1 pm
October 26, 12 - 1 pm

May 12, 1 - 2 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

May 19, 12 - 1:30 pm, SAMHSA-HRSA

May 19, 1 - 2 pm, Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA)

May 25, 1 - 3 pm, National Empowerment Center
May 31, 2 - 3:30 pm,  National Council for Behavioral Health



MAY 2016
OMH Agency Meeting
May 23:  10 am - 12 pm
44 Holland Ave., Albany

OASAS Agency Meeting
May 23:  1 - 3 pm
1450 Western Ave., Albany

CLMHD Mentoring Workshop
May 25:  10 am - 4 pm
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Syracuse

JUNE 2016
Mental Hygiene Planning Committee - In Person Meeting
June 2:  11 am - 2 pm
41 State Street, Albany

Officers & Chairs - Call In
June 8:  8 - 9 am

Directors / Executive Committee Combined Meeting
June 21:  9:30 - 11:30 am
GTM Only

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and Go To Meeting information, 518.462.9422 
NYSCLMHD Celebrates 40th Anniversary in Albany

2016 marks an important milestone for the NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors, as this year our organization celebrates its 40th anniversary of incorporation.  To honor this special occasion, a commemorative dinner was held at the Desmond Hotel & Conference Center in Albany on Monday, May 2, 2016.  
The event was attended by more than 135 guests, which included former and current DCSs and CLMHD staff, as well as State officials, legislators, and Executive Directors of a variety of NYS health and human services organizations. On display were historical photos from past membership meetings and events held throughout the past four decades.
T he Conference was presented with proclamations from Governor Cuomo, as well as from both Senator Robert G. Ortt, who is the Chair of the Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee, and Senator George A. Amedore Jr. , who is the Chair of the Senate Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee.  Additionally, Assemblymember Aileen M. Gunther, Chair of the Assembly Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee,
sponsored a resolution to honor the Conference's 40th anniversary, which was passed unanimously by the Assembly.  
We were honored to have one of the three original incorporating officers, Dr.  Bill Serafin, from St. Lawrence County, read a heartfelt letter from one of the first Conference members, Isadore Shapiro , who served as Chair of the Conference form 1978-80 .  At 97, Isadore was unable to attend the event but wanted to relay his well wishes.  Next, former Schenectady County DCS, Jack Cadalso, took the stage with fervor... and regaled the audience with anecdotal humor about his time as a DCS.  His presentation about the tools every DCS needs to do their job included props - a phone, a magic wand... and tap shoes!!!  Finally, the crowd was entertained by nationally-renowned recovery comedian, Mark Lundholm. 
Since 1976, the Conference has worked diligently on issues which impact the people of New York State and local governments.  
Today, we remain an organization that encourages mutual collaboration and collegial relationships that help foster solidarity among members and cooperation throughout the State.  That's the heart and soul of the Conference.  Here's to the next 40 years!
Tracie Gardner, Assistant Secretary for Health, presents a proclamation from Governor Cuomo to CLMHD Chair, Scott LaVigne.

Current and former DCSs came from far and wide to unite in celebration!

Jim Yonai, former DCS of Madison County and Ernie Gagnon, DCS of Fulton County.
Janet Talley, former Warren/Washington Co. DCS, reconnects with fellow DCS alumni, Loraine Chesin, Rensselaer Co., and Howard Sarvronsky, Nassau Co.  
Jack Cadalso, former Schenectady County DCS, entertained the audience with anecdotes...and props!
Governor Cuomo Announces Opening of Three Additional Programs Aimed at Helping Youth With Schizophrenia

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last week announced the expansion of a state program that helps young adults with newly emerging psychotic symptoms. Run by the state Office of Mental Health, the OnTrackNY program provides young adults with innovative, team-based psychiatric treatment, employment and educational services, as well as family education and support at locations throughout New York State. Three new locations are now open in Manhattan, Rochester and Albany, and eight additional sites are slated to open across the state by the end of 2016. 

With the opening of the three new OnTrackNY programs in Manhattan, Rochester and Manhattan, 12 OnTrackNY sites are now operational. By the end of 2016, eight additional program sites will open across New York State. These new sites will be located in Binghamton, the Bronx (two locations), Brooklyn, Garden City, Middletown, Queens, and Staten Island. At full implementation, it is estimated that the 20-site OnTrackNY program will serve 760 New York State youth at any given time. 

It is estimated that nearly 3,000 New York residents develop schizophrenia each year, which if left untreated may lead to a number of significant issues, including problems at school and work, strained family relations, and estrangement from friends. Untreated schizophrenia can lead to problems such as homelessness, incarceration, and substance abuse, the probability of which increases the longer the psychosis goes untreated. Oftentimes, untreated schizophrenia leads to disability, which exacts painful human costs upon the individuals and their families, as well as substantial financial costs to individuals, families, and the healthcare and social service systems. Read more
here .
Office of Mental Health Announces $1.4 Million Expansion of Program Linking Pediatric Primary Care Providers with Child Psychiatrists

The New York State Office of Mental Health last week announced the expansion of a program that supports treatment of children with mild-to-moderate mental health problems within pediatric primary care settings. Project TEACH (Training and Education for the Advancement of Children's Health) links pediatric primary care providers with child psychiatrists to provide immediate consultation services and expands the availability and accessibility of children's psychiatric services throughout New York State.   

Initially launched in 2010, Project TEACH has enrolled nearly 2,200 pediatric primary care providers in its first five years and has evaluated close to 8,900 children for behavioral health concerns.  Through the expansion of this program, Project TEACH plans to enroll an additional 3,800 providers and provide an additional 24,500 New York children with behavioral health consultations by 2020.

The Office of Mental Health has increased funding for Project TEACH by $1.4 million, now totaling $2.5 million annually. This funding will not only enable Project TEACH to triple the number of consultations with pediatric primary care providers provided by Child-Adolescent Psychiatrists, it will also increase trainings for primary care providers, and add staff to provide children and families with linkage and referral to mental health and community supports and services. The increased funding will also support a new site for the program, the seventh site statewide.  Read more here.
How a Small Town Became the Capital of HIV in America

Rampant drug use in Austin, Indiana-coupled with unemployment and poor living conditions-brought on a public-health crisis that some are calling a "syndemic."

Jessica and Darren McIntosh were too busy to see me when I arrived at their house one Sunday morning. When I returned later, I learned what they'd been busy with: arguing with a family member, also an addict, about a single pill of prescription painkiller she'd lost, and injecting meth to get by in its absence. Jessica, 30, and Darren, 24, were children when they started using drugs. Darren smoked his first joint when he was 12 and quickly moved on to snorting pills. "By the time I was 13, I was a full-blown pill addict, and I have been ever since," he said. By age 14, he'd quit school. When I asked where his caregivers were when he started using drugs, he laughed. "They're the ones that was giving them to me," he alleged. "They're pill addicts, too."

Darren was 13 when he started taking pills, which he claims were given to him by an adult relative. "He used to feed them to me," Darren said. On fishing trips, they'd get high together. Jessica and Darren have never known a life of family dinners, board games, and summer vacations. "This right here is normal to us," Darren told me. He sat in a burgundy recliner, scratching at his arms and pulling the leg rest up and down. Their house was in better shape than many others I'd seen, but nothing in it was theirs. Their bedrooms were bare. The kind of multigenerational drug use he was describing was not uncommon in their town, Austin, in southern Indiana. It's a tiny place, covering just two and a half square miles of the sliver of land that comprises Scott County. An incredible proportion of its 4,100 population-up to an estimated 500 people-are shooting up. It was here, starting in December 2014, that the single largest HIV outbreak in U.S. history took place. Austin went from having no more than three cases per year to 180 in 2015, a prevalence rate close to that seen in sub-Saharan Africa.

Exactly how this appalling human crisis happened here, in this particular town, has not been fully explained.  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.