November 19, 2021
Overdose Deaths Reached Record High as the Pandemic Spread

Americans died of drug overdoses in record numbers as the pandemic spread across the country, federal researchers reported on Wednesday, the result of lost access to treatment, rising mental health problems and wider availability of dangerously potent new street drugs.

In the 12-month period that ended in April, more than 100,000 Americans died of overdoses, up almost 30 percent from the 78,000 deaths in the prior year, according to provisional figures from the National Center for Health Statistics. The figure marks the first time the number of overdose deaths in the United States has exceeded 100,000 a year, more than the toll of car accidents and guns combined. Overdose deaths have more than doubled since 2015. Read more here.
How Licensed Counselors Could Help Address Harmful Substance Use

Underutilized workforce could be leveraged to play critical role in prevention and treatment

More than 20 million people in the United States have a substance use disorder (SUD), yet only about 10% of them receive treatment.1 And although there are about 750,000 licensed counselors specializing in mental health in the United States who could potentially help, few do.

To explore how licensed counselors (LCs) can help more people who have or are at risk of developing SUDs, The Pew Charitable Trusts convened a panel of experts in January 2020 from the fields of social work education and credentialing, psychology, behavioral health, addiction medicine, and psychiatry. Read more here.
Prevention Experts Speak On Narcan Shortage, Impacts On ODs

A shortage of naloxone, the medication used to reverse opioid overdoses, in some parts of the country has been reported at a time when addiction continues to rage, escalated by the pandemic.

A manufacturing issue led to Pfizer ceasing production of single-dose injectable Narcan in April, with full levels of distribution not expected back until February, News 10 reported.

According to the Washington Post, prevention advocates have called the uptick in ODs, coupled with a shortage of the low-cost antidote, "a perfect storm." Read more here.

Student-Run Mental Health Hotline Serves SUNY Students Statewide

"Middle Earth" is a growing hotline at the University of Albany for students seeking mental health support, and it's run entirely by other students.

Anytime you call in, you're answered by a fellow student, like LeAsia Royall, on the other side of the line.

“This program is unique in its own way and being part of Middle Earth is life changing. I’m super grateful to be a part of this program and it helps people every single day,” Royall said. “Having someone who is trained and can also relate to issues that are going on, on our campus, is super important." Read more here.

Minding The Access Gap: Addressing Both The Digital And Transportation Divides To Improve Outcomes

Prompted by concerns that some in-person care was too dangerous during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the US health care sector accelerated telehealth’s expansion. While telehealth has improved access to many outpatient services, marginalized patients—rural, poor, older, and minority patients—may not have benefitted equally from telehealth’s expansion. This stems, in part, from the “digital divide”—differential access to personal technology or broadband connectivity that results from historic disparities in economic means or educational attainment. Read more here.
Rockefeller Institute Analysis: Municipalities Are Opting Out of NY’s New Marijuana Law

The deadline for municipalities in New York to opt-out of the licensing of adult-use marijuana dispensaries and on-site consumption sites is right around the corner, Dec. 31.

The new Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, or MRTA, which passed in March, offers municipalities across New York the opportunity to opt-out of licensing. But if no decision is made, cities, towns and villages will be automatically opted-in to the retail marijuana marketplace.

Municipalities that opt-out will receive no revenue. But in an analysis of municipal opt-outs written by Heather Trela, director of operations and fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, a lot of cities, towns and villages are opting out preemptively because of a lack of guidance from the state. Read more here.
As Launch of 988 Mental Health Crisis Number Looms, NAMI Poll Finds Broad Support for the System and Fees to Fund It, Opposition to Police Response to Mental Health Crises

With a July 2022 deadline looming for the nationwide launch of a new three-digit number for suicide prevention and mental health crisis — 988 — a new poll from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has found deep dissatisfaction with the current state of mental health treatment and strong opposition to law enforcement responses to mental health crises.

NAMI is leading REIMAGINE: A National Week of Action to Reimagine Our National Response to Crisis, taking place this week, with more than 30 national partners to push policymakers to invest in a suicide prevention and mental health crisis system. This poll, conducted by Ipsos on behalf of NAMI, shows that creating and funding a 988 crisis response system — an alternative to 911 for mental health crises — shows broad support for a robust mental health crisis system, as well as federal and local action to fund it. The poll was conducted Oct. 22–25, 2021, and surveyed 2,049 adults. Read more here.
Behavioral Health Providers Falling Behind in EHR Adoption, Critical to Participate in Value-Based Care

As a majority of the medical and healthcare community have made the transition to electronic health records over the past decade, behavioral health providers have fallen behind in adopting EHRs in their process, which can cause difficulties for integrating care for behavioral health patients.

At a September public meeting for the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC), a panel of experts detailed the reasons for the lack of EHRs in behavioral health, what options are out there now and what changes can be made in the near future to get behavioral health providers up to speed when dealing with records. Read more here.
Collaborative Culture For The Integrated, Hybrid & Value-Based Future

Our team has focused on the infrastructure required for the post-pandemic future—a future that is likely integrated, hybrid, and value-based. We’ve designed a framework for a tech infrastructure for a hybrid future, outlined possible models for integrated care, and developed a readiness assessments for value-base care. That work has focused on the infrastructure—both technology and organizational competencies.

But future success is more than just technology and competencies. It requires new types of collaboration—and a new collaborative culture—for many provider organizations. From an integrated care perspective, communication between specialist professionals and primary care professionals is essential—but it is still the exception rather than the rule. And with the push to address social determinants, communication with corrections professionals and other stakeholders becomes more critical. Read more here.

A Telehealth Effort to Treat PTSD and Bipolar Disorder in Rural Areas Showed ‘Huge Gains.’ Now Comes the Hard Part

A multiyear effort to pipe big-city mental health providers to rural communities over video accomplished a trifecta of telehealth victories: It reached people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to mental health care; it tackled difficult diagnoses that don’t have simple answers; and it stretched how many people the most skilled providers can treat.

Now comes the inevitable question that follows any technology breakthrough: Does it scale? Read more here.
‘You Need a Whole Team’: How a Virtual Mentoring Program has Helped Bring Care Closer to Rural Patients

By the time Sanjeev Arora’s patient had trekked the 200 miles to his office to treat the illness destroying her liver, it was too late. What had kept her away before — a long waiting list and monthly travel for the intensive hepatitis C treatment she needed — was now no match for the deep belly pain that had begun to interfere with her day job. But the disease had progressed too far, and the woman passed away months later.

“I asked myself, ‘Why did she have to die when all the medications are available, the testing is available, and here I am with the knowledge to treat it?’” said Arora, a practicing internal physician at the University of New Mexico and the founder of a provider training program called Project ECHO that aims to equip rural caregivers with specialty expertise. Read more here.
OMH Announces Funding to Support Suicide Prevention Efforts for Uniformed Personnel

The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) last week announced the launch of a new Initiative to strengthen suicide prevention efforts for uniformed personnel, including police and other law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical service members (EMS), corrections officers and military veterans.

The program is called The CARES UP Initiative: (Changing the Conversation, Awareness, Resilience, Empower Peers, Skills Building/ Suicide Prevention for Uniformed Personnel), and it was developed by OMH’s Suicide Prevention Center of NY (SPCNY). The program will utilize $1,000,000 in funding annually from OMH to offer suicide prevention and resiliency trainings, create targeted media awareness campaigns, and present grant opportunities to provide uniformed personnel departments across the State with funding to increase suicide prevention efforts and wellness programming. Read more here.
Majority of Physicians Worried Signs of Addiction Missed Amid Pandemic, Report Finds

Two-thirds of physicians worried they missed signs of addiction among one or more of their patients during the pandemic, a report published Nov. 15 by Quest Diagnostics found.

Researchers surveyed 505 U.S. primary care physicians in August 2021 and used insights from nearly 5 million de-identified laboratory tests performed by Quest Diagnostics between 2011 and 2020 for patients throughout all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Read more here.

November 22, 3 - 4 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

November 30, 3 - 4:30 pm, OMH

November 30, 2 - 3 pm, Camden Coalition

December 1, 12 - 1 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

December 1, 1 - 2 pm, OMH

December 2, 1:30 - 2:30 pm,

December 7, 11 am - 12:30 pm, NYSOPDV

December 7, 12 - 1 pm, Center for Health Care Strategies

December 7, 1 - 2 pm, PsychU

December 8, 1 - 2 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

December 9, 2 - 3 pm, OMH

December 14, 3 - 4:30 pm, OMH

December 15, 10 - 11 am, OMH

December 15, 10 am - 12 pm, DOH

December 15, 1 - 2:30 pm, DOH


November 25 - 26


Executive Committee Call
December 1: 8 am

LGU Billing Staff Call
December 2: 2 - 3 pm

Addictions Services & Recovery Meeting
December 9: 11 am - 12 pm

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

CLMHD Membership Call
December 15: 9 - 10:30 am

Mental Hygiene Planning Committee Meeting
December 16: 1 - 3 pm

Children & Families Committee Meeting
December 21: 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)