October 30, 2020
CLICK HERE for Links to State Guidance and Updates on COVID-19
Albany County Reconvenes Task Force as Overdose Deaths Spike

“An epidemic within a pandemic” is what the two co-chairs of the county’s opioid task force called the spike in overdose deaths since the start of the coronavirus here in March.

Seventy-two county residents have died of overdoses in the first nine months of 2020, said Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy at Tuesday’s press briefing. During the same time period last year, the county had 50 overdose deaths, marking a 44-percent increase.

McCoy surmised that the number of deaths is actually higher, noting a time delay in receiving toxicology reports.

In all of 2019, Albany County had 62 residents die of an overdose; in 2018, that number was 55. Read more here.
FREE Online DTAC Training Courses

SAMHSA DTAC prepares states, territories, tribes, and local entities to deliver an effective mental health and substance abuse response to disasters. The following free online trainings are designed to help participants improve their awareness and understanding of the behavioral health effects of disasters and disaster and emergency response.


November 4, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU
November 5, 10 - 11 am, OMH
November 5, 2 - 3 pm, Corporation for Supportive Housing

November 9, 2 - 3 pm, National Association of Counties
November 10, 11 am - 12 pm, OMH
November 17, 10 - 11 am, OMH

November 18, 12 - 1 pm, Coordinated Care Services, Inc.
November 18, 1 - 2 pm, OMH

November 19, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc.


CLMHD Office Closed - Veterans Day
November 11

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

Children & Families Committee Meeting
November 17: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

CLMHD & State Agency Day
November 18, GTM
  •  OASAS: 9:30 - 11:30 am
  •  OMH: 12:15 - 2 pm
  • OPWDD: Rescheduled for December 7 @ 2 pm

Mental Health Committee - 730 Work Group
November 24: 11 am - 12 pm, GTM

Mental Hygiene Planning Committee
November 24: 1 - 3 pm, GTM

CLMHD Office Closed - Thanksgiving
November 26 - 27

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and GoToMeeting (GTM) information, 518.462.9422 
NYS OASAS Announces Award to Expand Addiction Prevention Services Across New York State at Start of Red Ribbon Week and National Prevention Campaign

The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports last Friday announced the award of nearly $800,000 to expand the “Triple P” Positive Parenting Program, an evidence-based prevention practice that has been shown to reduce risky behaviors among youth. Nine OASAS prevention providers were awarded funding under this initiative, which was provided through the federal State Opioid Response Grant and administered by OASAS. The announcement of this funding coincides with the start of Red Ribbon Week. This national prevention campaign runs from October 23-31, 2020 and is designed to educate youth, families and communities about the prevention of alcohol and substance misuse. 

The Triple P program has been shown to reduce risky behaviors among youth, such as substance use and juvenile offending, as well as encourage positive social behavior and emotional wellbeing. Read more here.

Intellectual Disability–Focused ACO Saves $3M in 2019

Alliance for Integrated Care of New York, an accountable care organization focused on adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, announced last week that it achieved nearly $3 million in savings in 2019.

The organization was founded in 2014 and has nine members, many of which are associated with Affiliates of Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State.

Alliance for Integrated Care also recorded savings of $3 million in 2018 as well as $2.4 million in 2017. Read more here.
Just and Well: Rethinking How States Approach Competency to Stand Trial

Across the country, many states are facing a common problem: competency to stand trial (CST) processes are increasingly crowded and delayed. More and more people are being referred for evaluation and restoration, and their wait times have increased to lengths that have been found unconstitutional in some places. As they wait, too many people languish in jail—a setting where those with behavioral health needs tend to get worse, not better. Some are even spending longer amounts of time being evaluated and restored than they would potentially spend in jail if they were convicted of their charges. And when they return to the community, often after charges are dismissed, they reenter without access to mental health treatment. Seeking solutions to these serious challenges, the organizational co-authors of this report gathered a group of national advisors to find a way forward. The report represents a consensus view of the challenges that states face, as well as a shared vision of what an ideal CST process should look like.
Prioritizing The Elimination Of Prior Authorizations For Inpatient Psychiatric Care

It’s 2 am. A patient is wheeled into the emergency department. The paramedic slams down the EKG – “it’s a rule-out STEMI.” The patient is rolled past triage and into an acute treatment room. The emergency department team evaluates the patient, the on-call cardiologist is paged, and the catheterization lab is prepped. Then, just as Transport is about to wheel the patient into the lab, an administrator comes in and halts the procedure – the inpatient prior authorization has not been obtained. The resident at the patient’s stretcher stumbles back to the workroom and dials the number for the insurance company. After a 30-minute hold, the resident spends 20 additional minutes talking through the case with an insurance representative – the patient’s chest pain, the EKG findings, the response to nitroglycerin. Finally, the resident jots down an authorization number, presents it to the administrator, and the catheterization can begin. The door-to-balloon time has been set back an hour.

This scene may be a page from the storybook of absurdity. And yet, in psychiatry, this is everyday care in the emergency department for our sickest patients. Read more here.
Overwhelmed ER Docs Fear Losing Jobs If They Seek Help

The coronavirus pandemic hit New York City emergency physician Lorna Breen, MD, with extraordinary ferocity. She became infected and ill herself, then returned to find her hospital overwhelmed with the sick and dying. Within days, she suffered a mental crisis that she feared would endanger her medical license and her career.

On Monday, the six-month anniversary of Breen's death by suicide, her sister urged emergency physicians to take heed of a new survey that suggests many in their field are struggling -- and dreading the loss of their jobs if they seek help.

"My sister rose to meet the challenges of COVID-19. And we believe that this ultimately cost her her life," said Virginia attorney Jennifer Breen Feist in a presentation at the virtual annual meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Read more here.
Addressing Social Determinants of Health Through Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plans

People who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid often have multiple chronic medical and behavioral health conditions and long-term care needs. This population of over 12 million individuals also has higher rates of social needs compared to non-dually eligible individuals. Unmet social needs can make it difficult for individuals to access care and follow care recommendations and medication regimens, resulting in avoidable hospitalizations and emergency department visits.

Recent federal flexibilities have enabled Medicare Advantage health plans, including Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNPs), to offer Special Supplemental Benefits for the Chronically Ill to their members. These benefits could include housing supports, healthy food access, and transportation. However, the current funding mechanism for these benefits may not provide sufficient resources for health plans to meaningfully address the needs of their members. Read more here.
Impact of COVID-19 on State Mental Health Services 

State Mental Health Agencies (SMHAs) are the critical safety net providing evidence-based mental health services to individuals in need in every state. Each year over 8 million individuals (2.5% of the U.S. population) receive mental health services and supports from SMHA systems. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated existing challenges in the state systems that expend over $40 billion annually to provide mental health services. COVID-19 affects all aspects of state behavioral health systems, including inpatient care in state hospitals, crisis services, community-based treatment services, and services to school-aged children.

To understand and assess the magnitude of the COVID-19 impact on state mental health systems, and how these systems have adapted to challenges presented by COVID-19, NRI, in collaboration with the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), surveyed the SMHAs during the summer of 2020. This report represents the results of this survey.
Demand for Virtual Mental Health Care is Soaring. Here Are Key Trends on Who is Using It and Why

The COVID-19 pandemic is driving enormous demand for virtual mental health care services.

Teletherapy providers have seen record uptake since March, and the need for mental health support appears to be growing as patients confront the stress of the pandemic and social crises.

Ginger, which offers text-based mental health coaching, teletherapy and psychiatry, reports that utilization rates rose to their highest level ever in the last week of September. Usage of Ginger's text-based mental health coaching was up 159%, and virtual therapy and psychiatry was up 302% compared to pre-COVID-19 averages, the company reported.

Ginger’s psychiatrists have written 163% more prescriptions for psychotropic drugs, primarily for antidepressants, as compared to pre-COVID-19 averages. 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)