June 24, 2021
Wayne County Official on State Council

Jim Haitz, Director of Wayne Behavioral Health, recently was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the State Department of Health’s Rural Health Council.

“It’s a great honor for me to have been selected by the governor to represent rural communities, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to bring my voice and perspective to the table in Albany regarding state-level healthcare system policies, programs, and decisions as they relate to the best interest and impact in rural communities,” Haitz said. Read more here.
Proposed Merger of New York's Addiction, Mental Health Offices Focus of Debate

Roughly half of all people with a mental illness will suffer from addiction at some point in their lives, so why are the two often treated separately?

That question has been a topic of debate for years among those working in New York’s behavioral health field, but it got renewed attention Monday as members of the state Assembly convened virtually to hear from providers and advocates about the benefits of integrating care for mental illness and substance use disorder among those who struggle with both. Read more here.
Whippet Usage Still Prevalent Among New York Youth

The feeling of using whippets has been described in a myriad of ways: living in a daydream, hearing the "whomp-whomps" of a helicopter flying above your head, and feeling frozen in time. State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., who represents a wide swath of Central Queens, was first made aware that whippets were being done in his district in 2019 after he received around a dozen calls from concerned residents.

"I've seen piles of canisters on a crosswalk, so kids aren't hiding it," Addabbo said, referencing whippet use in his district. "Kids go into a corner and just do it there. But even a local police officer couldn't do anything about it, it's totally legal." Read more here.
Niagara County Announces Project Awareness Pharmacy Label Campaign

The Niagara County Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services (NCDMH), in partnership with the Niagara County Opioid Task Force (OASIS) and local pharmacies, on Thursday announced the launch of Project Awareness, a campaign to provide the Niagara County Crisis Services 24-hour phone line number on prescription medications that have a high potential for abuse and overdose. The goal is to raise awareness that help is available – any time, any day – for individuals who may have substance use concerns or may be considering taking the medications with an intent to harm themselves. Read more here.
Oneida County Launches New “Spike Alert Program”

Oneida County and Partnership to End Addiction have come together to launch a text message alert program with hopes of reducing the amount of substance use overdoses by notifying the community of real-time drug and overdose threats.

“You know you have a vulnerable friend, relative co-worker whatever out there that tells you a couple of things,” Anthony Picente, Oneida County Executive said. “That bad drugs are being passed around in particular in that area for whatever reason, so the spike alert and the spike texts get you that information in as real of time as possible.” Read more here.
Kids In Mental Health Crisis Can Languish For Days Inside ERs

One evening in late March, a mom called 911. Her daughter, she said, was threatening to kill herself. EMTs arrived at the home north of Boston, helped calm the 13-year-old, and took her to an emergency room.

Melinda, like a growing number of children during the pandemic, had become increasingly anxious and depressed as she spent more time away from in-person contact at school, church and her singing lessons.

NPR has agreed to use only the first names for this teenager and her mother, Pam, to avoid having this story trail the family online. Right now in Massachusetts, in many parts of the U.S, and the world, demand for mental health care overwhelms supply, creating bottlenecks like Melinda's 17-day saga. Read more here.
Audit Finds Telehealth Services for Mental Health May Be At Risk

The COVID-19 pandemic shifted many face-to-face interactions online, including mental health services, which saw demand rise sharply over the last year.

But unless state officials act, many service providers could end telehealth coverage for mental health counseling and services when the declared state of emergency ends in New York, an audit by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office warned.

The audit, obtained by Spectrum News 1 on Thursday, found 307 of 448 serivce providers offering more than 1,000 mental health telehealth programs would not be approved to do so once the declared emergency ends. That could risk some patients from continuing to access care and services remotely, the audit found.  Read more here.

New Loan Repayment Program Expands Eligible SUD Disciplines, Facility Types

HRSA has launched a new program to further support combating the nation’s opioid crisis. The Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program (STAR LRP) expands access to substance use disorder (SUD) treatment by adding several new disciplines, including bachelor’s-level SUD counselors, behavioral health paraprofessionals, and clinical support staff. The program also broadens access to the clinical best practice of a “warm handoff” and recognizes the effectiveness of integrated SUD treatment teams. Eligible health professionals can receive up to $250,000 in exchange for a six-year, full-time service commitment at an expanded variety of SUD facility types. Eligible sites may also apply to become approved for the program. Find out if you’re eligible and apply by July 22, 7:30 p.m. ET.
Mental Health on Hold in the Hudson Valley

Lingering depression from prolonged COVID isolation, coupled with reopening anxiety has spurred many people to seek therapists. And, in their moment of need, they’re increasingly being met with waitlists.

“We’re pretty overwhelmed here. The volume is like nothing I have seen before,” says Wendy Keller, LCSW at Behavioral Health Services of the Hudson Valley [BHSHV] a private psychotherapy group practice in Newburgh. Normally their wait time for an appointment is one to two weeks. Today they’re operating at a four- to six-week wait for new patients, with a 30 percent higher patient volume. Read more here.
The Care Crisis: 1 in 4 Direct Support Positions Vacant in New York

For the past several weeks, disability community and their allies have been expressing great concern over a major gap in workers that support the every day lives of people with disabilities.

On Monday May 24, a large crowd of advocates gathered outside of Community Services for Every1 in Downtown Buffalo. They were sounding the alarm on a shortage of support professionals. It started with a prayer and call to action from Pastor Kinzer Pointer:

“This can't go on, we must make sure not only that every position is filled, but that when we are advertising and interviewing for these positions, that the wages that we are paying are living wages. This is a social justice issue," Pointer said. Read more here.

June 24, 3 - 4:40 pm, SAMHSA's HHRC

June 28, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

June 28, 3:30 - 5 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

June 29, 9 am - 12 pm, CCSI

June 29, 1:30 - 2:30 pm, American Academy of Pediatrics

June 29, 2 - 4 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

June 30, 10 - 11 am, OMH

June 30, 10:30 am - 12 pm, The College for Behavioral Health Leadership

June 30, 1 - 3 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

July 1, 1 - 2:30 pm, CSG Justice Center

July 6, 1 - 2 pm, OMH

July 6, 3:30 - 5 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

July 14, 11 am - 12 pm, OMH

July 14, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

July 20, 3 - 4 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

July 21, 1 - 3 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

July 22, 1 - 2:30 pm, OMH

July 22, 2 - 4 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

July 28, 11 am - 12 pm, OMH


LGU Billing Staff Call
July 1: 2 - 3 pm

Addiction Services & Recovery Committee Meeting
July 8: 11 am - 12 pm

Agency Day: OASAS
July 12: 9:30 - 11:30 am

Agency Day: OMH
July 13: 9:30 - 11:30 am

LGU Clinic Operators Call
July 14: 10 - 11:30 am

WEBINAR: Blueprint for Diversifying Funding Sources: Wayne County
July 14: 2 - 3:30 pm

Agency Day: OPWDD
July 15: 9:30 - 11:30 am

Children & Families Committee Meeting
July 20: 11:30 am - 1 pm
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)