June 17, 2021
Albany County Is Answering the Call for Mental-Health Crises in a New Way
On Friday, the first team of trained mental-health experts was poised to answer calls in the rural Hilltowns just as the ACCORD program was being detailed for the press.

The Albany County Crisis Officials Responding and Diverting program was announced in December when $170,000 was allocated in the budget to create two new Department of Mental Health social-worker positions.

“Starting this afternoon, the first of two response teams consisting of social workers and paramedics will be rolling out on their first shift,” Andrew Joyce, chairman of the county legislature, said at the noon press conference, held at the Emergency Medical Services station in Voorheesville. Read more here.

Mental Health Agencies Report Workforce Crisis in New York

Mental health advocates across New York are celebrating a new resource for people living with mental illnesses. It’s called 988.

“We’ve seen all too often what happens in communities when the response to a mental health crisis is a 911 response,” said Sebrina Barrett, executive director of the Association for Community Living (ACL).

The number 988 will serve as a hotline for people experiencing a mental health crisis and help transform how the state responds to the emergencies. But advocates say the new tool is highlighting another crisis.

“It’s not going to be helpful to have 988 if there is nobody there to answer the call,” said Barrett. Read more here.

Lawsuit Would Help Pay for Addiction Services

New York stands to reap a potential windfall totaling more than $1 billion from ongoing litigation holding pharmaceutical companies responsible for the wave of death and addictions linked to the opioid epidemic.

Legislation unanimously approved by both houses of the Legislature would create a “lockbox” fund for any settlement money paid out by pharmaceutical companies facing trial on Long Island. The case involves litigation filed by state Attorney General Letitia James and Suffolk and Nassau county governments.

The idea of putting the money in a dedicated fund as opposed to the state’s general fund has received the support of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) and several advocates for addiction counseling providers. The fund would be set up to ensure settlement money is targeted at prevention, intervention and treatment services. Read more here.

Special Education Students Could Receive Post-Pandemic Support

A bill that would provide special education students with a post-pandemic boost to finish school is nearing completion at the state Capitol on the final day of the legislative session.

The proposal is meant to address the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic for students with disabilities who are at risk of aging out of public education by the time they turn 21.

The measure would enable special education students to return to school until completing the Individual Education Plan or turning age 23, whichever is sooner. State law entitles students to attend public school in New York until they turn 21. Read more here.
NIH-Funded Study Tests “One-Stop” Mobile Clinics To Deliver HIV, Substance Use Care

A clinical trial is underway in five U.S. cities to determine whether delivering integrated health services through mobile clinics can improve HIV and substance use outcomes among people with opioid use disorder who inject drugs. If effective, mobile clinics could serve as an innovative strategy for expanding access to care and providing uninterrupted treatment in this underserved population that addresses the linked public health crises of addiction and HIV. Read more here.
Recent Legislation Can Dramatically Improve Substance Use Prevention: Here’s How To Seize The Opportunity

The recent and ongoing opioid crisis has prompted a surge in much-needed legislative attention and action to bolster our nation’s response to addiction. Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act in 2016 and the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act in 2018 to address opioid misuse, addiction, and overdose deaths through a variety of initiatives in prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support. The federal government has also provided billions of dollars directly to states through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s State Opioid Response grant program. More recently, amid considerable increases in substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic, funding to address opioid and other substance use and addiction was included in several COVID-19-relief packages. Read more here.
The Mental Health Power 50

Year after year, mental health remains one of New York City’s biggest policy challenges, as lawmakers, mental health advocates and clinicians work on measures to reduce the stigma around mental illness, increase access to affordable services and reimagine how the criminal justice system responds to individuals with a mental health condition. In the past year, COVID-19 has only intensified these discussions as pandemic-related depression, anxiety, isolation, drug use and job loss increased the need for access to mental health services. City & State’s inaugural Mental Health Power 50 list – researched and written in partnership with journalist Cassandra Brooklyn – recognizes some of the most influential public officials, academics, health care professionals, advocates and activists who are making a difference in the lives of people living with mental illness. Read more here.
New Study Reveals Impact of Telemental Health in Reducing Anxiety and Depression

CirrusMD this week announced results of a recent six month study of telemental health services delivered by its physician network. The study found that integrated telebehavioral healthcare, provided by healthcare professionals to patients with general anxiety and depression, materially improved health and wellbeing, as measured by standardized assessment tools.

As demand for mental healthcare services surged during the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to climb, access to qualified behavioral therapy professionals has not kept pace. To help bridge gaps in mental health access, CirrusMD began formally delivering telemental health services in June 2020.

This new research study contains the first six months of results for telepsychiatry patient encounters conducted on the CirrusMD platform related to depression and anxiety disorders. Read more here.
Social Determinants Of Health: Aggregated Precision Investment

The current pandemic will likely have significant negative long-term consequences on health, with the economic downturn, job losses, social and emotional effects of social distancing and sheltering, and disruption to routine health care and education. These pressures exacerbate the existing shortfall of investment in social determinants of health (SDOH). Looking ahead, finding mechanisms to unleash and efficiently mobilize SDOH investment to address the country’s outsize social needs will be even more pressing.

The challenge of garnering sustainable investment in SDOH is long-standing. Because the benefits of such investments are diffuse, it is difficult for a single stakeholder, such as a health plan, to secure a return on investment (ROI) on SDOH outlays. Read more here.
As Session Ends, Family Court Reform Inches Forward On Two Fronts

Efforts to reform New York’s Family Court system moved forward at the end of the legislative session last week when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appointed a 20-member commission to issue recommendations on the mental health professionals who play a crucial role in determining child custody disputes.

The review of the mental health professionals, known as forensic evaluators, came as there were also some setbacks when some bills intended to improve the Family Court system failed to be passed by the Legislature. Read more here.
Strategies for Smaller Behavioral Providers Looking to Transition to Value-Based Care

For behavioral health providers, being overworked and underpaid is often the norm. Low reimbursement rates mean less incentive for new clinicians to enter the space, perpetuating the industry-wide supply and demand mismatch and making it harder for patients to receive care.

While most providers agree payment innovation is the answer, getting payers on board can be challenging. But as the pandemic continues to highlight the importance of behavioral health care, that’s getting easier, according to Greg Keilin, co-founder and CEO of Prosperity Behavioral Health, a business process outsourcing firm focused on financial operations to support behavioral and mental health care providers. Read more here.


June 22, 2 - 3:30 pm, Stepping Up Initiative

June 24, 1 - 2:30 pm, OMH

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 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


Children & Families Committee Meeting
June 15: 11:30 am - 1 pm

CLMHD Membership Call
June 16: 10 - 11:30 am

WEBINAR: Blueprint for Crisis Response Continuum: Orange County
June 16: 2 - 3:30 pm

CLMHD Offices Closed - Juneteenth
June 18

WEBINAR: Blueprint for Suicide Prevention Innovation: Westchester County 
June 22, 10 - 11:30 am

Mental Hygiene Planning Committee Meeting
June 22, 1 - 3 pm


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)