August 11, 2022
Governor Hochul Launches Health Care Worker Bonus Program

Governor Kathy Hochul last week announced the launch of the Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus program. Enacted in the Fiscal Year 2023 New York State Budget, the program includes $1.3 billion allocated for the payment of recruitment and retention bonuses to certain health care and mental hygiene workers, a key initiative in the Governor's aim to increase the state's health care workforce by 20 percent over the next five years.

Bonuses will be awarded to eligible workers who make less than $125,000 annually and remain in their positions for at least six months. Disbursements will be commensurate with the number of hours worked and duration of service within designated vesting periods for up to a total of $3,000 per employee. Read more here.
Staffing Shortages Continue to Spur Group Home Closures

A staffing crisis at residential facilities operated by the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities is continuing to drive closures of the facilities, with labor groups and families who rely on the group homes worried there is not enough being done to recruit new workers.

Rural areas of the state, especially in the Finger Lakes region, are among the regions being hard-hit by the "suspensions" of residential services that have resulted in many developmentally disabled people being forced to move into new group homes or care facilities, sometimes long distances away from their families. Read more here.

HHS Awards Nearly $90 Million to Community Health Centers to Advance Health Equity through Better Data

On Monday, during National Health Center Week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded nearly $90 million in American Rescue Plan funding to nearly 1,400 community health centers across the country to advance health equity through better data collection and reporting. On Friday, August 5, President Biden issued a proclamation on National Health Center Week to recognize the vital role health centers play in safeguarding the well-being of Americans and honor the heroic staff who keep these facilities running. Read more here.

Additional article of interest: Using Health-Related Data to Improve Care for People Experiencing Homelessness: Perspectives from Illumination Foundation
Governor Hochul Announces $31.5 Million for Supportive Housing Projects

Governor Kathy Hochul last week announced that $31.5 million in state funding was awarded to seven projects that will provide permanent supportive housing to New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. Supported through the state's Homeless Housing and Assistance Program, these projects include developments that will create an additional 332 units serving the elderly, individuals with a history of substance use disorder, individuals with developmental disabilities, young adults and those suffering from serious mental illness. Read more here.
After Push by Hochul and Adams, an Increase in Court-Ordered Mental Health Treatment

According to state data, the number of people placed under court-ordered mental health treatment since April, when lawmakers expanded the court's power to make such determinations, has increased 60% from the same period a year before.

The data, provided by the state Office of Court Administration (OCA) to Gotham Gazette after an inquiry, shows that during the four-month period from April through July, 462 people in New York were ordered by a judge to undergo mental health treatment under Kendra's Law, a 1999 statute that applies to people deemed a danger to themselves or others. Read more here.
Once Feared, Illicit Fentanyl Is Now a Drug of Choice for Many Opioid Users

One of the deadliest street drugs, illicit fentanyl, has transitioned from a hidden killer that people often hope to avoid to one that many drug users now seek out on its own. The shift to intentional use of fentanyl underscores a worrying trend in the country's ongoing opioid epidemic, experts say: That a growing number of people have become so tolerant to opioids like heroin, that they're turning to the synthetic compound, which is up to 50 times stronger. Read more here.

Additional articles of interest: The rise of illicit fentanyls, stimulants and the fourth wave of the opioid overdose crisis

When Mental Illness Leads to Dropped Charges, Patients Often Go Without Stabilizing Care

For seven years, Timothy Jay Fowler rotated between jail, forced psychiatric hospitalization, and freedom. In 2014, the Great Falls, Montana, man was charged with assaulting two detention officers while he was in jail, accused of theft. A mental health evaluation concluded that Fowler, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was unfit to stand trial, according to court documents. After Fowler received psychiatric treatment for several months, a judge ruled that he was unlikely to become competent anytime soon. His case was dismissed, and after a stay in the state-run psychiatric hospital, he was released. Read more here.
The US Mental Health Hotline Network Is Expanding, but Rural Areas Still Face Care Shortages

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s 988 phone number, which launched July 16, was designed as a universal mental health support tool for callers at any time anywhere. But the U.S. is a patchwork of resources for crisis assistance, so what comes next isn’t universal. The level of support that 988 callers receive depends on their ZIP code. In particular, rural Americans, who die by suicide at a far higher rate than residents of urban areas, often have trouble accessing mental health services. While 988 can connect them to a call center close to home, they could end up being directed to far-away resources. Read more here.
Northwell Health Operating Successful ER Telemedicine Service

Northwell Health's ER on Demand telehealth service has reduced utilization of emergency rooms and urgent care clinics, according to the New Hyde Park, New York-based health system.

Emergency departments are one of the most expensive sites of care. If patients can be treated via telehealth, services can be delivered with higher value. ER on Demand, which is available to all residents of New York State, was developed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The telehealth service was piloted with Northwell Health employees in November 2020, then it was offered to the public from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Now, ER on Demand is available to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Read more here.

A Hospital Social Needs Index Would Help Hospitals Collaborate To Address Social Needs And Health Equity

In response to a recent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed rule for inpatient and long-term hospitals related to health equity, hospital stakeholders are ramping up efforts to build health equity into their core functions and considering what’s needed to do so operationally. The importance of addressing the social determinants of health (SDOH) to improve population health is front and center in these efforts. In the fall of 2021, Cal Hospital Compare, a multi-stakeholder collaborative focused on providing consumers with hospital performance information in California, began to explore the use of social needs indices to inform its analysis of hospital clinical quality, patient experience, and patient safety. Read more here.

OMH Collaboration with Behavioral Health News: Understanding the Impact of Stigma
OMH is collaborating with the publishers of Behavioral Health News to discuss, address, and hopefully reduce, the stigma surrounding mental illness. We know that stigma often discourages people from seeking help and services. The collaboration includes two editions of Behavioral Health News dedicated to the subject of stigma. This link will bring you to the first edition, which includes articles by Commissioner Ann Sullivan, MD, and other OMH employees, as well as reports by clinicians, providers, academicians, and others.
NAMI HelpLine Launches a New, Nationwide Texting Support Option

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) last week launched a nationwide SMS/text message support option for the NAMI HelpLine, adding a communications medium that is overwhelmingly preferred by young people — a population experiencing an unprecedented mental health crisis.

Help-seekers can now text “HELPLINE” to 62640 between 10 a.m.–10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday, to connect with the NAMI HelpLine. The free, peer-support service provides information, resource referrals and support to people living with a mental health condition, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers and the public. Read more here.
NYS Bar Association Launches Task Force To Help Lawyers Better Serve Clients With Mental Health Challenges

The New York State Bar Association is launching a task force that will focus on the impact that the burgeoning mental health crisis taking place across the state is having on the public and the civil and criminal justice systems.

“Despite a revitalized focus on the issues, the legal system is continuing to fail the majority of our clients living with mental illness and trauma,” said Sherry Levin Wallach, who, as president of the New York State Bar Association, appointed the task force. “They must be treated with compassion, and not automatically criminalized, when and if they interact with the justice system. Mental illness and trauma must be destigmatized." Read more here.


Mental Health Committee Meeting
August 11: 3 - 4 pm

CLMHD Membership Call
August 17: 9 - 10:30 am

Mental Hygiene Planning Committee Meeting
August 18: 1 - 3 pm


CLMHD Executive Committee Meeting
September 7: 8 - 9 am

Addiction Services & Recovery Committee Meeting
September 8: 11 am - 12 pm

Mental Health Committee Meeting
September 8: 3 - 4 pm

LGU Clinic Operators Meeting
September 13: 10 - 11:30 am

Children & Families Committee Meeting
September 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)