February 10, 2022
Hochul OKs Advocate for People with Disabilities as Worker Shortage Threatens Independence

Gov. Hochul has revived and funded the state's Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities. To be called the Office for the Chief Disabilities Officer, it was first created by Gov. Mario Cuomo and faded away during Gov. Andrew Cuomo's tenure. The office will provide a voice for people with disabilities as the community reels from a worker-shortage crisis and recovers from the impact of COVID.

"This a welcome recognition that something has been lacking, clearly, and yet another indication that this is a brand new day," said Michael Seereiter, president and CEO of the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation. Read more here.
Dr. Chinazo Cunningham Receives Brinkley Smithers Distinguished Scientist Award

Chinazo Cunningham, MD, MS, FASAM, Commissioner of NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports (NYS OASAS) in Albany, New York, is this year’s recipient of ASAM’s Brinkley Smithers Distinguished Scientist Award. The award is given in recognition of a physician’s highly meritorious contributions in advancing the scientific understanding of addiction, its prevention, and treatment options. Read more here.
NY Assemblyman Phil Steck on his Bill to Help People with Co-Occurring Disorders

Fifty percent of people who are in substance abuse treatment have co-occurring mental health disorders, but there are very few services in New York that are prepared to serve this population. New York Assemblyman Phil Steck, chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, has introduced a bill (A9097) that would create mental health capacity within the state Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) and eliminate barriers to coordination between OASAS and the New York State Office of Mental Health. Read more here.
Report Says New York was 4th in Fentanyl Deaths Last Year

New York ranked fourth in the nation for the highest number of fentanyl deaths last year, according to a new report published last week. Families Against Fentanyl, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about the drug’s use, authored the study and found that fentanyl poisoning deaths are rising in numerous states, doubling in at least 30 in the last two years. Reported deaths tripled in the teen population from 2019 to 2021, and particularly increased within Black teens, among which the deaths were five times higher. Read more here.
Decades Adrift in a Broken System, Then Charged in a Death on the Tracks

To the homeless men lined up outside Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in Manhattan, Martial Simon was a familiar figure: often incoherent, usually angry about something.

But over the course of Mr. Simon’s endless circuit of hospitals and jails, outpatient psychiatric programs and the streets, Larry Williamson grew friendly with him. The frequent targets of Mr. Simon’s ire, Mr. Williamson said, were doctors and the medical establishment. He was upset that hospitals were discharging him before he believed he was well enough to live on his own.

Mr. Simon’s ragged journey continued until 9:37 a.m. on Jan. 15, when, according to what the police said was his confession, he shoved Michelle Alyssa Go, a 40-year-old stranger, in front of a train at the Times Square subway station. She died instantly. Read more here.

Study: Mental Health Service Utilization Review Patterns in NYS Medicaid Managed Care Program

Medicaid managed care utilization review data for mental health services were analyzed for the calendar years 2017 and 2018. These data indicate low rates of utilization review denials for both inpatient and outpatient mental health services. The current study investigated mental health utilization review (UR) clinical service authorization requests, denials, and reasons for denial in a statewide Medicaid managed care organization (MMCO) program. Read more here.
'Raise the Age' Falling Short on Transforming Troubled Youth

Programs that were supposed to support the state's Raise the Age statute, which was intended to ensure young offenders are not unfairly punished as if they were adults, has arguably failed to provide many of those teenagers with the services needed to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into their communities.

The breakdown has occurred as a recent New York City study found nearly 50 percent of 16-year-olds were rearrested for new crimes in the first year after the Raise the Age statute went into effect more than three years ago. The study revealed similar high rates of recidivism for 17-year-olds affected by the change. Read more here.
NY Advocates Push to Restore 'Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative'

When combat veterans seek mental health care in New York state, most are seeking help in civilian settings, even though clinicians at Veterans Administration hospitals are trained specifically to serve the military population.

“Even though the VA is probably the largest provider of services, still over 60% of veterans receive their care outside of the VA,” Dr. Marianne Goodman, a professor of psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told Capital Tonight. Read more here.
As Internet Access Limits Telehealth's Reach, Insurers are Starting to Cover the Bill

Billions of dollars have been poured into telehealth during the pandemic: Insurers loosened the purse strings on virtual appointments, digital health companies pulled in astronomical investments, and the public markets minted multiple unicorns. But while virtual care’s proponents are fighting to cement its future, many Americans still can’t sign on at all.

Nearly a quarter of adults in the U.S. don’t have broadband at home, network speeds are insufficient for video calls in much of rural America, and 15% struggle to pay for internet. Read more here.

NACo: Counties Transform, Modernize Human Services Delivery Systems

County human services delivery systems are a critical touchpoint for children and families, especially those who are experiencing economic hardship and the negative impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19). County-delivered human services provide critical supports and a safety net for moving individuals, children and families out of poverty and improving their immediate and long-term health outcomes.

However, residents in need often interface with multiple programs and services that operate in silos with different program standards and eligibility rules. This experience can be stressful and retraumatize families who are already in crisis. As families navigate the intricate maze of systems and application standards and forms, county leaders are exploring policy and technical solutions for transforming the human services delivery system in a way that supports the whole needs of families. Read more here.

HHS Announces New Reports and Grant Program Addressing the Health Needs of Pregnant Women and Children Affected by Substance Use

A new series of reports from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on substance-exposed pregnancies highlights how pregnant and postpartum women who use substances and their children can benefit from evidence-based prevention and treatment strategies. The reports, which were produced by researchers in HHS's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), identify strategies that can reduce the negative health and well-being impacts of substance use (including alcohol use) on families based on a review of existing research and consultation with experts in managing these conditions. Read more here.
SAMHSA Grant Announcement: Targeted Capacity Expansion - Special Projects

Application Due Date: Monday, April 4, 2022

The purpose of the program is to implement targeted strategies for the provision of substance use disorder (SUD) or co-occurring disorder (COD) harm reduction, treatment, and/or recovery support services to support an under-resourced population or unmet need identified by the community. The applicant will identify the specific need or population it seeks to support through the provision of evidence-based SUD or COD harm reduction, treatment, and/or recovery support services. Diversity, equity, and inclusion must be integrated in the provision of services and activities throughout the project, for example, when conducting eligibility assessments, outreach, and engagement or developing policies.

SAMHSA plans to issue 22 awards of up to $375,000 per year for up to 3 years. Read more here.
NYS OASAS Launches Media Campaign To Raise Awareness Of Problem Gambling Services In NYS

The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (NYS OASAS) today announced the launch of the “Stick to the Game Plan” campaign. The goal of this new multi-faceted campaign is to bring awareness to problem gambling and how to prevent it, and to help direct people in need to problem gambling services.

OASAS Commissioner Chinazo Cunningham said. “As gambling opportunities continue to expand, it is essential that we remind people about the importance of gambling responsibly, and the steps they can take to help avoid risks of developing a gambling addiction. It is also equally important for parents to talk with their children about gambling. This new campaign will give people the tools they need to help prevent problem gambling, as well as direct them on where to find help if they need it.” Read more here.
Homelessness and Crisis: Who Will Answer the Call?

In January 2020, a point-in-time count in the United States revealed homelessness continues to be a public health emergency. There were 580,466 people experiencing homelessness on a single night, a 2.2% percent jump from the previous year. Nearly 40% were unsheltered and living in abandoned buildings, cars, encampments, parks, or sidewalks. Unsheltered homeless people frequently interact with law enforcement and face increased marginalization and barriers. “They often have multiple morbidities,” says Kevin Martone, “including mental illness, substance use disorders, and physical health challenges.” “Also, they’ve likely experienced trauma.” These additional layers can make it more complicated for systems to sort through and coordinate care, particularly in communities where those systems aren’t comprehensive or well-connected. Read more here.

February 10, 3 - 4 pm, OMH

February 15, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm, NYAPRS

February 15, 2 - 3 pm, HMA

February 16, 10 - 11:30 am, OMH

February 16, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

February 16, 3 - 4 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

February 17, 12 - 12:30 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

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


Mental Health Committee Meeting
February 10: 3 pm

CLMHD Offices Closed - Lincoln's Birthday
February 11

Membership Call
February 16: 9 - 10:30 am

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)