January 15, 2021
Counties, School Board Groups Discuss Challenges to Children’s Mental Health

Nearly 150 county officials joined a webinar hosted by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA), and the Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors (CLMHD), which gathered stakeholders from the mental health and education fields to discuss mental health challenges posed by the pandemic and what role counties can play in aiding the mental well being of schoolchildren.

According to statistics from the National Institute of Health presented during the webinar, 1 in 5 youths had a mental health diagnosis prior to pandemic. Of those, the most common diagnoses were anxiety disorders (32%), mood disorders (14%), and substance use disorders (11%).

Nearly 70% of youths entering substance treatment have a mental health disorder, and the highest dropout rate for students is among those who have mental health conditions. Read more here.
Schumer, Gillibrand Re-Up Fight for Direct Federal Aid to State and Local Governments Responding to and Recovering from Coronavirus Pandemic

On Tuesday, incoming U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced the upcoming introduction of their bill to provide local governments with direct federal relief that can be used to pay for essential services, retain vital frontline workers, and offset lost revenues and increased costs from the COVID-19 emergency. Schumer and Gillibrand will reintroduce their Direct Support For Communities Act in the new Congress to deliver urgently needed relief for communities across New York State as part of a broader state and local fiscal relief fund. The bill would deliver resources to support essential services, and offset lost revenues and increased costs from the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of an overall pot of assistance for state and local fiscal relief. Read more here.

New York Governor’s Task Force Calls ‘Raise The Age’ a Success, But Racial Disparities Persist

Just three years ago, nearly 3,000 juveniles served time in adult prison or jails across New York state. In 2020, that number was zero, thanks to the “Raise the Age” juvenile justice reform law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2017, after lengthy advocacy and debate in the statehouse. 

Despite the dramatic change — a success according to advocates, government officials, and some in law enforcement — a recent report from the Cuomo administration finds the state still faces a deep and persistent racial disparity in its juvenile justice system. Almost all the older teens locked up in the state come from Black and Latino communities. Read more here.
Volunteers Needed for Research Study on Breastfeeding

Are you in the third trimester of pregnancy and interested in breastfeeding your baby? Are you taking methadone or buprenorphine (Subutex)? You may be eligible to receive gift cards in return for sharing your experiences with a nurse. 

The University at Buffalo is conducting a research study to interview pregnant women who are receiving 
methadone or buprenorphine (Subutex) for opioid addiction​ to understand their plan and experience in breastfeeding. Read more here.
Crisis Counseling Program Offers Free, Confidential Support During COVID-19

NY Project Hope helps New Yorkers understand their reaction and emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through an emotional support helpline, educational materials, and trusted referrals, NY Project Hope supports people so they can manage the changes brought on by COVID-19.

Whether you want to learn about reliable community resources that can help you or you just want to talk... maybe it's both. Whatever it is that you need as you work to navigate your way through these very unusual times, NY Project Hope is here for you during COVID-19. If you decide to call our Emotional Support Helpline, you will reach someone who has been trained to hear what you are saying and give you the kind of support that works best for you during the pandemic...
whether it's coping strategies, resources or a chance to talk - the call is always free, confidential, and anonymous. NY Project Hope’s Emotional Support Helpline number is 1-844-863-9314. Trained crisis counselors are available every day from 8am to 10pm. For coping tips, relaxation exercises and much more, log onto NY Project Hope’s website, NYProjectHope.org

January 19, 3 - 4:15 pm, Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc.

January 20, 11 am - 12:30 pm, OMH

January 20, 2- 3 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

January 21, 9 - 10:30 am, NYSDOH

January 21, 12 - 1 pm, Behavioral Health Business

January 21, 1 - 2 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

January 21, 3 - 4:30 pm, CMS

January 26, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

January 26, 2 - 3 pm, OMH

January 27, 1 - 2:30 pm, NYSDOH

January 27, 1 - 2:30 pm, COSSAP

January 27, 3 - 4:30 pm, NAADAC

January 28, 1 - 2 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

January 28, 2 - 3:30 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

January 28, 2:30 - 4 pm, SAMHSA, NASMHPD

February 11, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU


CLMHD Office Closed - MLK Jr. Day
January 18

Children & Families Committee Meeting
January 19: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

CLMHD Membership Call
January 20: 9 - 10:30 am, GTM


Executive Committee Meeting
February 3: 8 am, GTM

AOT Coordinators Meeting
February 5: 10 - 11:30 am, GTM

Quarterly LGU Clinic Operators Call
February 9: 10 - 11 am, GTM

Addiction Services & Recovery Committee Meeting
February 11: 11 am - 12 pm, GTM

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

CLMHD Membership Call
February 17: 9 - 10:30 am, GTM

Developmental Disabilities Committee Meeting
February 18: 1 - 2:30 pm, GTM

Mental Hygiene Planning Committee Meeting
February 23: 1 - 3 pm, GTM

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and GoToMeeting (GTM) information, 518.462.9422 
CLMHD Executive Director Discusses Impact of COVID-19 on County Mental Health and Addiction Services

Kelly Hansen, Executive Director of the NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors (NYSCLMHD), says her members have "a drone’s view" of social safety net systems across all of the state’s counties. 

"The commissioners have relationships with mental health and addiction treatment clinics, hospitals, the criminal justice system, and children’s services," Hansen told Capital Tonight. "We are responsible for planning and oversight."

Indeed, her members are responsible for building critical services in communities throughout the state. But over the last 9 months, 20% of counties' state aid has been withheld by the Cuomo administration because of the state’s falling revenue, due to COVID-19. Read more here.
Governor Cuomo Announces Proposal to Expand Access to Telehealth for All as Part of 2021 State of the State

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo this week announced legislation to expand and improve access to telehealth for all as part of the 2021 State of the State. The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the inequities in our healthcare system and showed that telehealth is a critical tool to expand access and lower costs for low-income communities, especially for behavioral health support. During the crisis, the Governor took executive action to expand access to remote care, and these proposals codify and build on those successful reforms.

In partnership with the Reimagine New York Commission, the Governor will enact comprehensive telehealth reform to help New Yorkers take advantage of telehealth tools and address existing roadblocks. These reforms will address key issues like adjusting reimbursement incentives to encourage telehealth, eliminating outdated regulatory prohibitions on the delivery of telehealth, removing outdated location requirements, addressing technical unease among both patients and providers through training programs, and establishing other programs to incentivize innovative uses of telehealth. Read more here.

4 Predictions for Teletherapy in 2021

Teletherapy is likely to experience growth and other significant changes in 2021, the CEO of a teletherapy provider says.

Last March, when the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the United States, telehealth visits increased 50%, according to Frost and Sullivan. With in-person medical visits associated with the risk of coronavirus infection, virtual visits have emerged as a safe and effective way for patients to meet with their healthcare providers in many circumstances. Read more here.

A Medical Treatment For Meth Addiction Proves Effective In New Trial

For the first time, a medication regime has been found effective for some patients with meth addiction in a large, placebo-controlled trial.

It's welcome news for those working with the growing number of people struggling with meth addiction.

"It's progress and it's quite significant," says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Addiction, which funded the two-year clinical trial involving roughly 400 patients.

The study was published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine. Read more here.
Governor Announces Proposal to Enact a First-In-The-Nation Guarantee of Affordable Internet for Low-Income Families

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced his proposal to enact a first-in-the-nation requirement for affordable internet for all low-income families as part of the 2021 State of the State agenda. Under the Governor's proposal, all internet providers would be required to offer affordable service at $15 per month to low-income households. The affordability requirements are part of the Governor's nation-leading 2021 connectivity agenda, which also includes a series of actions to protect consumers through better disclosures, promote broadband build-out and market competition, and undertake new digital inclusion efforts.

The Governor's Reimagine New York Commission reported to the Governor that equal access to high-quality, affordable internet connectivity is a prerequisite to building back a better and more equitable New York. Read more here.
NYS Office of Mental Health Seeks to Address the Social Determinants That Affect Mental Health in Our Communities

by Ann Sullivan, MD, Commissioner, NYSOMH

A part of New York State’s strength lies in its diversity, which provides us with the wisdom of many different cultures from which we can all learn. But diversity is often accompanied by inexcusable inequity, as residents of some communities are exposed greater risk of health problems.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made this starkly clear. The pandemic has hit our African American, Latino, Native American, and Asian-American communities especially hard. All saw higher infection, hospitalization, and death rates than white communities. Why is this? There are several factors, related to inequities in living conditions and access to health care – including mental health. Read more here.
CMS Issues New Roadmap for States to Address the Social Determinants of Health to Improve Outcomes, Lower Costs, Support State Value-Based Care Strategies

Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance to state health officials designed to drive the adoption of strategies that address the social determinants of health (SDOH) in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) so states can further improve beneficiary health outcomes, reduce health disparities, and lower overall costs in Medicaid and CHIP. SDOH describe the range of social, environmental, and economic factors that can influence health status—conditions that can often have a greater impact on health outcomes than the actual delivery of health services. The new guidance describes how states can leverage existing flexibilities under federal law to tackle adverse health outcomes that can be impacted by SDOH and supports states with designing programs, benefits, and services that can more effectively improve population health and reduce the cost of caring for our nation’s most vulnerable and high-risk populations. Read more here.
FORE Establishes Scientific Advisory Council to Advance Initiatives Addressing the Nationwide Opioid Crisis

The Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE) this week announced the establishment of its Scientific Advisory Council to provide program-related guidance to assist the Foundation in addressing the nation’s opioid crisis. Comprised of nationally renowned experts, the Council will advise FORE’s board of directors and staff on the latest scientific trends and developments, grantmaking policy and strategy, and other matters related to stemming the alarming increase in opioid addiction and overdoses impacting communities across the country. Read more here.
Top Audit Warning Signs for Behavioral Health Providers

As the behavioral health industry draws more government funding, it’s also getting newfound scrutiny from state and federal regulators. Enforcement actions against behavioral providers are on the rise, especially for those organizations that participate in Medicare and Medicaid.

Consequently, compliance planning is more important than ever — and so is identifying warning signs that suggest the government could come after an organization. 

Any provider that works with government payers is vulnerable to an audit, even the ones that think they’re doing everything right, according to attorney Jennifer Evans. She’s a shareholder at the national law firm Polsinelli, where behavioral health is one of her focus areas. Read more here.
End of An Era: The Last Of The Standalone Behavioral Health Carve-Outs

Last week was the end of an era in health care financing. With the purchase of Magellan by Centene, there are no more standalone companies focused solely on managing behavioral health benefits. As of 2002, there were more than 800 organizations that offered managed behavioral health and employee assistance programs, and Magellan Behavioral Health had the largest enrollment with 30% of marketshare.

At the time, these “horizontal carve-outs” were a growing phenomenon. This was also a time when we saw the growth of national specialty hospital chains focused on behavioral disorders—and rising lengths of stay. The number of private psychiatric hospitals in the United States increased from 180 in 1970 to nearly 250 in 1985. The number of psychiatric beds in the nation’s hospitals rose by 37% in 1985 alone. Behavioral health was “disconnected.” 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)