February 17, 2022
Governor Hochul Establishes Office of the Chief Disability Officer

Governor Kathy Hochul on Monday announced the establishment of the Office of the Chief Disability Officer to advocate on behalf of persons with disabilities and appointed Kimberly T. Hill as the State's first Chief Disability Officer.

"My administration is committed to protecting the right of all New Yorkers to live and work in our state free from the fear of discrimination," Governor Hochul said. "It is critical that we prioritize the protection of our most vulnerable communities, and the new Office of the Chief Disability Officer will ensure we remain accountable to the pursuit of a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable New York." Read more here.
How Will New York State’s Budget Address the Youth Mental Health Crisis?

After graduating high school last spring, Meril Mousoom spent most of the summer quarantined in their parents’ home in Queens–the same place they’d also camped out during the remote classes that dominated the second half of their high school experience.

That summer, Mousoom was overwhelmed with suspense. After two years in quarantine, going away to college in Minnesota felt more significant, and more uncertain. “Because we’re so young, COVID has just been like the biggest thing that we are seeing,” said Mousoom, who is 18 years old. “For us, it’s like the most defining moment of our lives.”

Like many others dealing with the pandemic’s mental health repercussions, Mousoom needed extra help. But they couldn’t find consistent, reliable behavioral health resources they could depend on. Read more here.

The Worker Shortage's Big Impact on People with Developmental Disabilities

Amanda Hayes is out for lunch with her parents at the Burger King in Canton. She’s 37 years old with curly brown hair tied back in a bun and bright turquoise sneakers. Her Dad, Ed, wheels her chair to the table. Amanda laughs as her mom, Carrie, helps her take a sip of chocolate milkshake.

“Oh! What’s so funny!" laughs Ed. "Hey! Down the hatch!" jokes Carrie. "Oh, she's savoring every ounce of it! She'll put milk in her mouth and hold it there, just savoring it," says Ed.

Amanda has cerebral palsy and can’t feed herself or talk. Carrie and Ed love the noises Amanda makes. They call them her "happy notes," but worry she’s making less of them lately. "This is probably the first time she’s giggled in two days. The depression. We walked in. She had her head down. She was shaking," says Ed.

Amanda lives in a home with ten people and requires 24-hour care. Outings like this are rare. Almost all activities for the folks in Amanda’s home have stopped. There aren’t enough workers to help residents leave the house except for doctors' appointments. Read more here.

This Doctor Thought She Could Navigate US Health Care. Then Her Autistic Son Needed Help.

Alexander Roodman was packing up his room, preparing for a gap year before college, when I met him at his family’s Washington, D.C., townhouse. The room was a typical teenage disaster zone, with clothes and books strewn everywhere. Then, Alex picked up an origami sculpture that rippled with dozens of ridges and depressions. “It’s kind of a repetitive pattern,” he said. “First, you make the diagonal folds and these lateral folds to cut the paper in half.”

It’s pretty complicated. Alex, a slim teenager with long black hair and penetrating eyes, is gifted with the focus for this. But the way his brain works can be a challenge.

Alex is autistic. And like many parents of children with autism, Alex’s mother and father have spent years trying to find a doctor or school or therapist who could help. Read more here.

State Aims to Reinstate Hundreds of Psychiatric Beds Shifted During Pandemic

New York State is looking to reinstate all of the roughly 400 beds in the state's inpatient psychiatric system that were converted to medical beds at the start of the pandemic two years ago. But there is a long road to restore them despite mounting pressure from elected officials, representatives of the state Office of Mental Health (OMH) told lawmakers at a joint state legislative budget hearing Monday.

"Across the state there have been hundreds of beds that closed or migrated due to COVID," OMH Commissioner Anne Marie Sullivan told members of the State Assembly and Senate. "We are looking to reopen all those beds," she said, adding that her agency was also looking for services "that could make the difference."

"We are really pushing to make sure those beds come back on line," she said. Read more here.

States Take Action to Address Children’s Mental Health in Schools

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated rising mental health needs among children and youth. In addition to experiencing the human cost and social isolation brought upon by COVID-19, many children have lacked consistent time in classrooms. School closures and shifts to online learning have limited access to educational and social opportunities as well as mental health services. Since the onset of the pandemic, 38 states have enacted nearly 100 laws focused on supporting schools in their role as one of the primary access points for pediatric behavioral health care. These laws provide funding for school-based mental health services, strategic planning to improve school mental health systems, training and resources for school staff and students, and guidance for school policies. As children navigate the lasting impacts of the pandemic and policymakers prioritize youth mental health, states are certain to continue investing in and strengthening school-based mental health systems. Read more here.
Increase in Naloxone Accessibility Needed in Almost Every US State to Combat Opioid Overdoses, Study Says

The distribution and accessibility of naloxone, a drug used to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose, needs to be increased and expanded in almost every U.S. state in order to more effectively combat opioid overdoses and prevent more overdose deaths, according to a new study.

The study, published in The Lancet Public Health journal and funded by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse — part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health — is the first to analyze and draw estimates of naloxone needs for each U.S. state. According to researchers, most states suffered from significant disparities in their accessibility and distribution of naloxone. Read more here.

Additional articles of interest: Teenage deaths from fentanyl use are soaring

Equity and Harm Reduction Are Top of Mind for Policymakers on Substance-Use Disorders

Harm reduction efforts to tackle substance-use disorders are mounting across the state. Elected officials and industry leaders spoke at the New York Society of Addiction Medicine's annual conference last Friday, discussing priorities, challenges and new approaches to tackle the epidemic this year.

"We're in the worst opioid overdose on record," said Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, the commissioner of the Office of Addiction Services and Support, during the panel discussion. Keeping patients alive is a priority, especially during the pandemic, and that will require bringing services to the patients, not vice versa, she said. Read more here.
NIH: Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in Jail Reduces Risk of Return

Almost two-thirds of people currently incarcerated in the U.S. have a substance use disorder. Many struggle with opioid addiction. Opioids include prescription pain relievers, heroin, and powerful synthetic versions such as fentanyl that are driving record numbers of overdose deaths. Medications used to treat opioid use disorder—also called MOUD—can reduce cravings and symptoms of withdrawal. MOUD include buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. However, few jails and prisons offer these evidence-based treatments. Read more here.
‘A Real Crisis’: License Backlogs in Some States are Preventing Health Care Workers from Seeing Patients

Last September, Michelle Thomas thought she was about to start a new job as a therapist serving a clinic and a public school in western Wisconsin. After taking time off to raise four children, and moving states since she last worked, she was eager to restart her career.

By the first day of classes, she had a bio on the counseling clinic’s website, a list of students waiting to see her, even a child care plan for when she and her husband would both be at work. All she needed was her marriage and family therapy license. Read more here.
Demand For College Peer Counselors is Booming. But Training Only Goes So Far

As a first-year student at Boston College in fall 2020, Ella Snyder recalls feeling isolated and being anxious about the university's new COVID-19 safety restrictions.

"I was very worried about how I would make friends while also having to social distance," she says. "It was kind of like I was trying to figure out this impossible balance."

Walking across campus, Snyder spotted a flier advertising Lean On Me, a peer support network that hosts online, confidential conversations with students who have received about 30 hours of initial training, including crisis protocols. Read more here.
February 22, 12 pm - 1 pm, PsychU

February 22, 2 - 3 pm, OMH

February 22, 3 - 4 pm, NACo

February 23, 1 - 4 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

February 24, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

February 24, 1 - 2 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

February 24, 2:30 - 3:30 pm, HHRC

February 24, 3 - 4 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

February 24, 3 - 4:30 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

February 24, 3 - 4 pm, OMH

February 24, 12 - 1 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

February 28, 12 - 1 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

March 3, 3 - 4 pm, OMH

March 8, 3 - 4:30 pm, OMH

March 16, 10 - 11 am, OMH

March 22, 2 - 3:30 pm, OMH

March 30, 11 am - 12 pm, OMH


CLMHD Offices Closed - Washington's Birthday
February 21


OASAS Agency Day
March 7: 9:30 - 11:30 am

OMH Agency Day
March 8: 9:30 - 11:30 am

OPWDD Agency Day
March 9: 9:30 - 11:30 am

Addictions Services & Recovery Meeting
March 10: 11 am - 12 pm

Mental Health Committee Meeting
March 10: 3 - 4 pm

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

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

Developmental Disabilities Committee Meeting
March 17: 1 - 2:30 pm

Save the Date - CLMHD's Spring Full Membership Meeting is scheduled for April 21-22, 2022 in Saratoga Springs!
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)