March 5, 2021
New State Lawmakers from Rochester Spearhead Policing Reform

Rochester has faced nationwide scrutiny after the upstate city saw two high-profile incidents in the past year that horrified the nation and put a spotlight on its policing practices. And now the new progressive state lawmakers representing Rochester are spearheading an effort to reform policing in the state.

“So many criminal justice pieces of legislation – whether they're reforms or what have you – have come out of the downstate delegation members for years,” said freshman state Sen. Jeremy Cooney, whose district includes part of Rochester. “Part of that is obviously reflected in the fact that most of upstate was represented by Senate Republicans for so many years. But that's changing.”

Daniel’s Law – which is sponsored by state Sen. Samra Brouk and Assembly Member Harry Bronson, who both represent part of Rochester – aims to move mental health response away from police departments. Read more here.
Peer Support in First Responder-Led Diversion and Deflection Programs: Necessary Tools in the Fight Against COVID-19 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related deaths and ongoing concerns about individuals with mental illness or substance use disorder (SUD). Between March and May 2020, there was a 17 percent increase in drug overdoses reported during the first stay-at-home order period, with more than 60 percent of counties reporting an increase during that time (Alter & Yeager, 2020). Linking people who have recently overdosed or who are otherwise struggling with an opioid use disorder with treatment has been exceptionally challenging. The support system that people turned to before the pandemic is less accessible for such individuals, making the recurrence of substance use more likely. First responder-led diversion and deflection programs that incorporate peer supports into their work have found them to be an invaluable addition, providing connection and hope during this challenging time and offering innovative approaches to saving lives. Read more here.
With Telehealth, OLV Human Services Decreases Cancellations, Lengthens Sessions

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, the biggest worry for OLV Human Services in Lackawanna, New York – as with most agencies – was that the most vulnerable population served would possibly have interruptions to their services due to face-to face services being canceled.

With stay-at-home orders from the governor in effect, the reality was there would be clients who did not receive services. OLV also was guarding against the possibility of staff layoffs and/or program closures due to not being able to financially sustain them if no services could be provided.

"When the temporary order from the government to allow telehealth was announced, that gave agency providers hope that they could still provide services to the families they serve, while not financially draining them," said Sheila Hunt, the chief managed care officer at OLV Human Services. Read more here.
Building Effective Health System-Community Partnerships: Lessons from the Field 

Health care organizations are increasingly seeking to meaningfully partner with community members to better address community needs and priorities, especially for patients with complex health and social needs. As health care entities prioritize strategies to address health disparities and advance health equity, it is particularly important to acknowledge the critical perspectives that patients and their families can bring to inform program and policy design. It can, however, be challenging to obtain and incorporate community voices in a sustainable and authentic manner.

This brief shares considerations for health care organizations and government entities to build effective partnerships with the individuals and communities they serve to better address their health and social needs.

March 9, 1 - 2 pm, MCTAC/CTAC

March 10, 3 - 4 pm, OMH

March 10, 3 - 4 pm, NAADAC

March 17, 12 - 1 pm, CCSI

March 17, 2 - 3:15 pm, COSSAP

March 18, 3 - 4:30 pm, OMH

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

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, 2 - 4 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

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

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


LGU Clinic Operators Call
March 9: 10 - 11:30 am, GTM

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

Children & Families Committee Meeting
March 16: 11:30 am - 1 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 
County Department of Mental Health Director Dr. Stephen Giordano, left, joins Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, center, and deputy county executive Dan Lynch, right, during the announcement for the creation of the county's first mental health court in the Albany city court system on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, during a press conference in Albany.

Albany County Starts Mental Health Court Diversion Program

Albany County is starting its first mental health court, five years after County Executive Dan McCoy first proposed one.

The pilot program will begin in Albany City Court, McCoy said during a news conference on Friday.

McCoy said it would help prevent "the criminalization of mental illness."

"This initiative will be able to divert low-level, non-violent offenders away from incarceration and into the treatment they need," he said.

The program will open to 15 defendants who are charged with non-violent misdemeanors. Once they are arraigned, the court will look at criteria to determine if a defendant is eligible for diversion to the mental health court. Read more here.
Osborne Association, Buffalo Police Department partner to safeguard children of arrested parents in Buffalo & WNY

The Osborne Association and the Buffalo Police Department announced the Safeguarding Children of Arrested Parents Project to develop and enact a child-sensitive policing policy, protocols, and training to minimize the potential trauma for children from parental arrest and other police enforcement activities. A new consortium of WNY youth-serving agencies is advising the project and working to provide trauma-informed follow-up services to children and families.

The innovative training project is funded through a significant contribution from AT&T and an implementation grant from the WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo through its “Moving Forward Together” initiative. Together, these grants will allow Osborne’s Buffalo FamilyWorks program and the Buffalo Police Department to address the harmful impact of a parent’s arrest on children and families. Read more here.
Years of Work Ahead for Mental Health Professionals After Pandemic: Much of That Will Happen in Local, Rural Communities

In February the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that the pandemic and economic recession that ensued had a negative impact on many people’s mental health.

They reported that around 40% of adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety, or depressive disorder. It was a significant bump from the pre-pandemic rate of 10%.

A tracking poll from July 2020 found that many adults were also reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health and well-being, such as difficulty sleeping- reported by 36% of respondents, eating- reported by 32%, and increases in alcohol consumption or substance use- reported by 12%.

Point being, the pandemic is laying the groundwork for years of necessary effort by mental health professionals across the board to undo damage done by the pandemic.

Margaret Morse is the director of community services in Seneca County. Over the weekend she talked about some of the trends Seneca has experienced throughout the duration of the pandemic. Read more here.
New Report: 40% of Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Organizations Will Survive Less than a Year Without Additional Financial Support

New “State of the Industry” data released by the National Council for Behavioral Health finds 40% of mental health and addiction treatment organizations surveyed will not be able to keep their doors open past the end of the year without additional federal relief. The data arrives amidst rising concerns about mental health, increases in overdoses and a surge in overdose death rates in communities across the country. Compounding the problem, a recent report from the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission found that only 36% of eligible mental health and substance use providers received Provider Relief Funds from the Department of Health and Human Services in 2020. Read more here.
Confusion Among State Agencies Delays Vaccines for New York Foster Youth In Congregate Care

Vulnerable teens and young adults living in New York group homes have apparently been eligible for vaccination against the coronavirus for as long as two months — but conflicting guidance and miscommunications between state agencies meant many providers didn’t know their residents could sign up until this week. 

After weeks of confusion, the Office of Children and Family Services on Monday released new guidance 
stating that residents of youth congregate facilities ages 16 and older are part of what’s known as “phase 1a” — the first group eligible to be vaccinated. Vaccines have not yet been approved for youth 15 and younger, though ongoing studies are expected to yield lower age limits by midsummer. Read more here.
New York's Responsible Play Partnership Blankets State with Events/Information About Problem Gambling Prevention, Treatment, Recovery

Members of New York’s Responsible Play Partnership (RPP), which include the New York State Gaming Commission, the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) and the New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG), announced a monthlong schedule of public events, professional trainings and general educational programming in support of National Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) in March. The initiatives highlight the RPP’s coordinated efforts to blanket the state with information about problem gambling and the availability of related prevention, treatment and recovery services. Read more here.
Teens' Mental Health Took a Hit During Pandemic

During the pandemic, teens' mental health services accounted for a much greater proportion of all their medical claims than in the past, especially last March and April, according to a FAIR Health "white paper".

Mental health claims essentially doubled as a percentage of all medical claims for individuals age 13-18 in March (+97%) and April (+103.5%) of 2020 compared with the same periods a year earlier, the report said. Medical claims overall fell by about half during that time.

That pattern persisted through the end of November 2020 -- the last month examined in the study -- but to a lesser extent, according to the report. Read more here.

The 'Other' Epidemic: Amid Covid-19, Addictions Experts Fear Biden Could Back-Burner the Overdose Crisis

There’s an epidemic sweeping the country, causing thousands of needless deaths each month and billions in economic damage. The government response is haphazard. Many Americans remain resistant to the prevention and treatment strategies shown to work best.

It’s not Covid-19. It’s the country’s “other” health emergency: accelerating drug overdoses, which could soon, for the first time, claim 100,000 U.S. lives in a single year. Yet while Washington treated the addiction crisis as a top priority just two years ago, the pandemic has made it an afterthought. Read more here.

NY Project Hope Covid-19 Crisis Counseling Program Expands Services to Meet Community Need

After almost a year since the pandemic began, the need for emotional support to help folks navigate COVID-19 continues. To meet this need, NY Project Hope is proud to announce that our crisis counseling program has expanded in 12 NY counties that have been highly impacted by COVID-19, including Dutchess, Erie, Nassau, NYC (all boroughs), Orange, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester. NY Project Hope has contracted with several local agencies in these 12 counties that will now provide COVID-19 related crisis counseling in their respective communities. By expanding the NY Project Hope crisis counseling program in these areas, more New York residents will be able to receive the emotional support they need, along with local resources and referrals from trained crisis counselors who know their community. For more information about our local provider agencies, visit

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about NY Project Hope services, please contact
Addictions Treatment — The Current Path To Value 

The fundamental paradigm shift that has happened in addictions treatment financing and the future of “value” in addiction treatment were the focus of a great session, Addictions Treatment: The Case For Value at the OPEN MINDS 2021 Performance Management Institute. Ashley Gibson, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s Director of Payer Relations, Contracts, and Utilization and Lauren Sims, Anthem’s Behavioral Health Program Director, presented their shared journey to value-based care. They discussed how the relationship between addiction treatment provider organizations and the health plans that pay them has been reshaped. The focus has moved away from length of stay in a singular level of care to consumer engagement at various levels of programming, and away from high clinical management to self-management.

The new measures of value. Part of the “growing pains” of value-based care is learning how to measure outcomes and how to demonstrate value with data. 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)