March 12, 2021
Erie County Rebids Contract For Children’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program Diversion Services

The Erie County Department of Social Services is rebidding a contract for a comprehensive psychiatric emergency program (CPEP) diversion services to prevent unnecessary psychiatric emergency room visits and/or hospitalizations for children and adolescents. The services are for children and adolescents with ECDSS involvement and a developmental disability or severe learning disorder who are at risk of avoidable psychiatric emergency room visits and/or hospitalizations. Currently University Psychiatric Practice, Inc. delivers CPEP diversion services for ECDSS to approximately 200 persons. That contract was awarded in 2018.

The county released the request for proposals (RFP 2021-005VF) on February 22, 2021, with proposals due by March 26, 2021. Bids will be accepted from for-profit and non-profit provider organizations. A total of $100,000 is potentially available for the requested CPEP diversion services for 2022. Compensation is based on a flat rate amount per billing period. The county may award more than one contract. The county intends to announce awards during the summer of 2021, and the one-year contract will go into effect on January 1, 2022. The contract is subject to annual renewal.

The RFP is available for download here.
Citizen Advocates, Saranac Lake PD Team Up for Innovative Program

Nationally, law enforcement and communities seek new and safer ways to address individuals in mental distress.

Here, an emerging partnership between Citizen Advocates and the Saranac Lake Village Police Department aims to be on the leading edge of meaningful reforms for promoting public health and safety.

The push for reform was set in motion after Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order in response to widespread social unrest that ignited nationwide in the summer of 2020.

As a result of the order, all police departments in New York state were required to conduct a thorough review of procedures and practices, with a specific focus on addressing racial and social inequities. Read more here.

6-Month Experiment Replacing Denver Police With Mental Health Teams Dubbed A Success

A Denver city councilmember who supports defunding police weighs new success of replacing cops with mental health teams. Six months in, the team has responded to almost 750 calls, without one arrest. Click here to listen.


March 16, 11 am - 12 pm, Corporation for Supportive Housing

March 16, 3 - 4 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

March 16, 3 - 4 pm,

March 16, 3 - 4:30 pm, Center for Health Care Strategies

March 17, 12 - 1 pm, CCSI

March 17, 2 - 3:15 pm, COSSAP

March 18, 1 - 2 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

March 18, 3 - 4:30 pm, Academy of Peer Services, Virtual Learning Community

March 18, 3 - 4:30 pm, OMH

March 19, 2:30 - 3:30 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

11 am - 12 pm, Corporation for Supportive Housing

March 23, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

March 24, 11 am - 12 pm, OMH

March 24, 2:30 - 4, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

March 24, 3 - 4:30 pm, NAADAC

March 24, 12 - 2 pm, OMH Suicide Prevention Office

March 25, 1 - 2:30 pm, SAMHSA

March 25, 2 - 4 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

March 29, 11 am - 12 pm, OMH and The Institute for Police, Mental Health & Community Collaboration

March 30, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

March 31, 2 - 3 pm, OMH

March 31, 2 - 3:15 pm, COSSAP

April 14, 2 - 3:15 pm, COSSAP

April 22, 2 - 3 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

Save the Date**: April 21 - 22, CCSI
**Registration link to be shared at a later date


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


LGU Billing Staff Call
April 1: 2 - 3 pm, GTM

Executive Committee Meeting
April 7: 8 - 9 am, GTM

Addiction Services & Recovery Committee Meeting
April 8: 11 am - 12 pm, GTM

LGU Clinic Operators Call
April 13: 10 - 11:30 am, GTM

Developmental Disabilities Meeting
April 15: 1 - 2:30 pm, GTM

Children & Families Committee Meeting
April 20: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and GoToMeeting (GTM) information, 518.462.9422 
CLMHD Featured on The Capitol Pressroom: "County Mental Health Officials Doing More With Less During Pandemic"

For many New Yorkers, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every facet of their lives including their mental health. Kelly Hansen, CLMHD Executive Director, and Katherine Alonge-Coons, DCS and Commissioner of the Rensselaer County Department of Mental Health, spoke with David Lombardo, host of The Capitol Pressroom, to discuss the work that New York’s local mental health programs are doing to help New Yorkers.

CLICK HERE to listen to the full interview.
Counties Applaud Senate Passage Of American Rescue Plan

After a year of fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, counties applaud the Senate's passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and encourages swift adoption by the House of Representatives, according to the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC).
The package includes $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local and territorial governments, including $65 billion for counties, a restoration of $5 billion as championed by the Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer. This emergency funding provides direct aid to counties, supporting the essential local government workers who have been on the front-line of the pandemic response.
An interim summary of the bill's county impact can be found here.
Biden Administration to Provide Nearly $2.5 Billion to States, Territories for Treatment, Prevention Aid

The Biden Administration will provide nearly $2.5 billion in funding to states and territories to address the nation’s mental illness and addiction crisis, which has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will direct $1.65 billion in Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funding and $825 million in Community Mental Health Services Block Grant funding to states and territories.

The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant program allows states and territories to provide comprehensive community mental health services and address needs and gaps in existing treatment services for those with severe mental health conditions. Read more here.
Governor Cuomo Announces Award of $50.7 Million to Enhance Addiction Services in New York State

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the award of up to $50.7 million to providers throughout New York State to expand access to addiction services. The majority of this funding will go towards regional networks designed to support a continuum of care that includes prevention, treatment and recovery. Further funding will go towards enhancing COTI services, recovery centers, prevention coalitions, and the Triple P prevention program within these network areas. This funding is part of the State Opioid Response federally supported grant administered by the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports. Read more here.
Telehealth Treatment Sessions Hold Ongoing Challenges for Clinicians

Mental health clinicians have utilized telehealth to provide treatment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, creating a need for alternative plans when technology fails and open conversations with patients to remain effective, Steven Chan, MD, MBA, said at a Psych Congress Regionals session on telepsychiatry.

Dr. Chan who is also a member of the Psych Congress and Psych Congress Elevate Steering Committees, advises having backup computers, tablets, or phones to ensure seamless telehealth treatment for the patient. It is essential to retrieve both the patient’s phone number and an emergency contact in case another mode of communication fails or there is a crisis, he said. Having open dialogue with patients can help make them more comfortable with these technologies and their limitations. Read more here.
How Therapists Have Been Coping With The COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s somehow March again, which means it’s been a full year since the COVID-19 pandemic altered our lives in ways we never imagined.

For most of us, it’s been a year of ups and downs with our mental health as we grappled with isolation, fear, anxiety and more. The same goes for mental health professionals.

“This past year has been a roller coaster,” said Rachel Thomasian, a licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Playa Vista Counseling in Los Angeles. “There have been times where I felt like I was handling it fine and other times that I was feeling burnout, hopelessness and anxiety at rates I’ve never experienced before. One of the hardest parts of being a therapist during this time has been trying to help all my clients cope with the same crisis I am living through myself.” Read more here.
12 People On How Their Mental Health Has Changed During The Pandemic

The pandemic has transformed how we think and talk about mental health, particularly as more people have developed chronic stress, anxiety and other issues over the last year.

Of the more than 500,000 people who took a depression screening between March and September 2020, around 8 in 10 people scored with symptoms of moderate to severe depression, according to a 2021 report released by Mental Health America. The survey also found that more participants reported frequent thoughts of self-harm or suicide, and symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety. Further, research has shown that the pandemic has greatly affected the mental health of communities across the globe, including frontline health workers and COVID-19 survivors. Read more here.

Basic Needs Come First

As a psychiatrist, I’ve long known that helping people with their mental health often requires meeting their basic needs. During the pandemic, we started to do that.

A few weeks ago, a man I will call Manuel arrived at the hospital emergency room where I am a psychiatrist. I wasn’t treating patients sick with COVID, at least not in the traditional sense. Still, many of the crises I’ve been consulted for in recent months were brought on by the pandemic.

Here is Manuel’s story: He had moved in with his mom in 2018 to get sober from drugs and get his life back on track. He had just celebrated a year of sobriety and had a steady job waiting tables when his mother died last spring. Unable to afford her rent, he lost his housing, his sobriety, and then his job. The depression from his past, kept at bay by routine and purpose, returned. He fell back onto his previous path of living on the street and using drugs, and he knew right where it headed.

“If this is gonna be my life again,” he said to me, “it’s not worth living.”

Because of his suicidal thoughts, Manuel was one of 26 patients in the emergency department that day waiting for an inpatient psychiatric bed. Ongoing bed shortages and COVID outbreaks at the local psychiatric hospitals meant it was unlikely he would get one. Read more here.

UHS: Managed Care Pressures Eased During Pandemic, But Future Unclear

Last year was one of the toughest in recent history for behavioral health care providers, who dealt with unprecedented financial strain and sky-high demand. Despite those challenges, the industry also scored a number of important wins in 2020, from being granted several important regulatory flexibilities to finally being recognized as vitally important to the healthcare continuum.

For Universal Health Services (NYSE: UHS), one such victory came in the form of negotiations with insurers and managed care organizations (MCOs). Specifically, UHS saw fewer denials and better rates from MCOs on the behavioral health side of its business in 2020, CFO Steve Filton said Friday during the company’s Q4 and year-end earnings call. Read more here.
Headstrong Project Inc. Announces Partnership with Wounded Warrior Project to Increase Mental Health Service Innovations for Veterans and Their Families

Headstrong Project Inc., a national mental health treatment practice providing veterans with barrier-free mental health care, received a grant from Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) to increase mental health treatment innovations. Amid ongoing efforts to meet the growing demand for critical mental health access for the nation’s veteran families, the funding will help Headstrong expand its program delivery model, enabling it to quickly respond to veterans’ needs surrounding isolation, depression, and anxiety – the hallmarks of quarantine during the pandemic.

Working in partnership with Weill Cornell Medical College, one of the nation’s leading mental health care centers, Headstrong developed a first-of-its-kind program tailored to each individual’s needs. The customized treatments address post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction, anxiety and depression, trauma, grief, and anger management. Read more here.
Getting Shots In Arms For Consumers & Staff: Vaccination Best Practices From The Field

There are lots of bumps on the path to getting the U.S. population vaccinated for COVID. How do provider organization executives manage the bumpy path ahead? What best practices have they developed? That was the subject of my recent webinar, Mission Critical? Why Advocating On Behalf Of Consumers With Complex Conditions For COVID-19 Vaccine Access Must Be #1 Priority, with Martin Lustick, M.D., Senior Vice President, NextGen Advisors, and three C-suite executives of specialty provider organizations—Annette Lusko, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Community Bridges; Geoffrey Hopkins, M.D., Senior Medical Director, Liberty Resources; and Billy West, Chief Executive Officer and President, Daymark Recovery Services. The executives shared their experiences, and how they have managed the challenges of the current vaccine situation.

Dr. Lustick opened the session with an update on current knowledge of the effects of COVID on populations with cognitive challenges. The risk of death from COVID for the population with serious mental illness (SMI) is about one and a half times that of the general population. The odds of getting infected with COVID-19 are about seven to ten times higher than other individuals for consumers with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 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)