January 12, 2023

Governor Hochul Announces Comprehensive Plan to Fix New York State's Continuum of Mental Health Care

Governor Kathy Hochul on Tuesday announced, as part of the 2023 State of the State, a comprehensive plan to overhaul New York's continuum of mental health care and drastically reduce the number of individuals with unmet mental health needs throughout the state. The multi-year plan includes increasing operational capacity by 1,000 beds for inpatient psychiatric treatment, creating 3,500 units of housing to serve New Yorkers with mental illness, increasing insurance coverage for mental health services, dramatically expanding outpatient services, and creating systemic accountability for hospital admissions and discharges to better address the needs of individuals suffering with mental illness. These proposals, over time, will reflect more than $1 billion in investment in mental health. Read more here.

Related: Hochul to Unveil a $1 Billion Plan to Tackle Mental Illness in New York

Advocates Cautiously Optimistic about Hochul’s $1b Mental Health Plan

HHS Awards Nearly $245 Million to Support Youth Mental Health and Help the Health Care Workforce Meet Families’ Mental Health Needs

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded nearly $245 million in Bipartisan Safer Communities Act funding – $185.7 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and nearly $60 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) – to support youth mental health, help the health care workforce address mental health needs, and fund other critical mental health supports. Addressing the mental health crisis is a top priority of the Biden-Harris Administration, as part of President Biden’s Unity Agenda. Read more here.

Study Shows Suicides Soared In Rural New York During Pandemic

Gov. Kathy Hochul's ambitious plan to repair New York's crumbling mental health service Infrastructure, teased during her State of the State address Tuesday, was lauded by advocates. What was left unsaid is that a myriad of factors are driving up suicide rates in rural parts of the state. Suicide rates in less-populated areas have climbed faster than those in urban centers for the last 20 years and that gap has only widened during the COVID-19 pandemic, data shows. Yet suicide prevention resources and efforts in New York have historically targeted population centers and have been ineffective at reducing the number of suicide deaths in the state's more far-flung communities.

A new study from NORC at the University of Chicago of 16 rural New York counties attempts to better explain the elevated suicide levels and highlight the unique dynamics at play in each community. The study looked at suicide rates and included interviews with mental health workers and residents. Read more here.

Attorney General James to Hold Public Hearing on Mental Health Access in Western New York

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that her office will hold its second in-person public hearing concerning the provision of mental health care for people with serious mental illness in the Western New York region. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, January 18, at 11 AM at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, and members of the public, advocacy groups, and healthcare providers are encouraged to testify. Individuals who wish to provide oral testimony at the hearing must submit their testimony online in writing by 5 PM on Wednesday, January 11, and written testimony will be accepted online through January 18. Read more here.

Tranq Dope: Animal Sedative Mixed With Fentanyl Brings Fresh Horror to U.S. Drug Zones

PHILADELPHIA — Over a matter of weeks, Tracey McCann watched in horror as the bruises she was accustomed to getting from injecting fentanyl began hardening into an armor of crusty, blackened tissue. Something must have gotten into the supply.

Switching corner dealers didn’t help. People were saying that everyone’s dope was being cut with something that was causing gruesome, painful wounds. In her shattered Philadelphia neighborhood, and

increasingly in drug hot zones around the country, an animal tranquilizer called xylazine — known by street names like “tranq,” “tranq dope” and “zombie drug” — is being used to bulk up illicit fentanyl, making its impact even more devastating. Read more here.

Lack of Person-Centered Research Impedes Rural Access to OUD Meds

Across the United States, people face many barriers to accessing medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD). This is often particularly pronounced in rural parts of the country, given a slew of hurdles such as limited 

health care provider knowledge, a dearth of services in harm reduction “deserts,” and stigma surrounding substance use. But new research, published in the 

International Journal of Drug Policy, also suggests that there are major knowledge gaps surrounding rural Americans’ access to lifesaving drugs like methadone and buprenorphine. According to the review, while some existing studies broadly compare access by rurality, there’s a lack of research into specific regions or localities—and critically, of research that centers patient experiences in those different places. Read more here.

Funding Opportunity: Expand Substance Abuse Treatment Capacity in Adult and Family Treatment Drug Courts

This program provides grants to enhance and expand substance use disorder treatment services in existing drug courts, recognizing the need for treatment instead of incarceration for individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs). Projects should have a coordinated, multi-system approach designed to combine treatment drug courts with effective SUD treatment services to break the cycle of criminal behavior, alcohol and/or drug use, and incarceration or other penalties. Family drug court applicants will be expected to do the same with an added focus on family preservation and promoting the wellness of the family. Read more here.

Providers say Medicare Advantage Hinders New Methadone Benefit

In 2018, responding to a wave of overdose deaths, Congress passed legislation requiring Medicare to pay for services at opioid treatment programs for the first time. But two years after Medicare began covering those programs, which use methadone and other medications to help reduce opioid use and overdose deaths, providers say their efforts are being hindered by Medicare Advantage — private insurance companies that administer benefits to about half of the Medicare population. They say the tactics Medicare Advantage has long used to control health care costs can also delay or block access to patient care, which can be especially dangerous or deadly for someone with a substance use disorder. Read more here.

Behavioral Telehealth Loses Momentum Without a Regulatory Boost

Controlled substances became a little less controlled during the pandemic. That benefited both patients (for their health) and telehealth startups (to make money).

Some potentially addictive medications — like buprenorphine and Adderall — are now far more available online to patients because of regulatory changes. Given the scarcity of qualified doctors to treat some of the behavioral health conditions associated with these drugs, like opioid use disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, doctors’ new ability to prescribe online or, in some cases, by telephone is a huge change. But easier access to the drugs has both upsides and downsides, since they’re often dispensed without accompanying therapy that improves the odds of a patient’s success. Read more here.

Related: Most State Medicaid Programs Intend to Keep Pandemic-Era Expansions in Telehealth for Behavioral Health Services and Are Adopting Strategies to Address Workforce Shortages in Behavioral Health

Top Health Trends for State Health Policymakers to Watch in 2023

The transition to a new year is a good time to reflect on what happened over the last 12 months and anticipate what it may mean for the upcoming year. For those in state healthcare policy, this three-part blog outlines 10 important issues from 2022 that are worth monitoring in 2023.

The 10 issues are broken into those occurring at a macrolevel, such as the federal Public Health Emergency, workforce shortages, and pressures from rising prices. The second set of trends include those internal to the industry with a focus on economic and market forces in health. The third blog focuses on service delivery, quality, and equity trends. Read more here.

ALBANY: Program prioritizes at-home mental health care for youth over psychiatric facilities

ALBANY: Recovery community to gain new Albany hub

CAYUGA: 'It could happen anywhere': Cayuga County submits domestic terrorism prevention plan

CENTRAL NY: Schumer Touts $2M for OCC Lab as Good for Auburn, CNY Health Care

CLINTON: Clinton Co. Youth Bureau funding applications now available

CLINTON: Hochul has a $1 billion mental health plan. How does it match up with the North Country's needs?

ERIE: Eastern Niagara Hospital president Anne McCaffrey hired by People Inc.

JEFFERSON: Jefferson County could become home to special apartments

JEFFERSON: Jefferson County’s 2022 drug overdose deaths

NYC: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Secures Millions for Bronx, Queens Community Projects in Government Spending Bill

ONEIDA: CNY sheriff urges funding for mental health resources

ONONDAGA: Syracuse Crunch have new opponent to beat: the opioid epidemic

ORANGE: Orange County launches initiative to prevent underage drinking

OSWEGO/CAYUGA: John Ben Snow Grant Supports Mental Heath Locally 

SCHENECTADY: Schenectady County to appoint new social services commissioner

SENECA: Mental health of student athletes prioritized in Seneca Falls CSD

SULLIVAN: Two dozen people fatally overdose in Sullivan County in 2022

TOMPKINS: County Health and Mental Health Depts. Complete Merger

TOMPKINS: CJC sets sights on mental health co-response, more reforms in 2023 workplan

WASHINGTON: Washington County approves domestic terrorism prevention plan

WESTCHESTER: Ossining Schools to Expand Mental Health Services Program

WESTCHESTER: NY High School NY High School Student Overdoses After Smoking Weed Vape Possibly Laced with Fentanyl

WESTERN NY: Congressman Higgins Announces Over $6.4 Million for Western New York Health Centers

Larger SSI and Social Security Payments on the Way

Individuals with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income and other Social Security benefits are seeing the largest rise in their monthly payments in decades. With the new year, benefits are up 8.7%, according to the Social Security Administration. That’s the biggest increase since 1981. As a result, the maximum federal SSI benefit for this year is $914 per month for individuals and $1,371 for couples, the agency said, though payments can be higher since some states kick in extra. Read more here.

A Year after a Nurse’s Loss to Suicide, His Friends Are Building out a Peer Support Network

When Michael Odell, an intensive care nurse, died by suicide a year ago this month, it thrust attention on all that nurses had endured during the pandemic. Odell’s death also motivated his friends in the field as well as other nurses to build on that attention and his legacy. In the year since, they’ve been advocating for health care worker well-being and calling for health systems to offer more support for nurses, historically a group that’s received less consideration than doctors. They also started an organization called Don’t Clock Out.

Read more here.

Call for Nominations: What's Great In Our State

The goal of the What's Great in Our State event is to recognize the individuals, programs, and organizations that are making a difference in supporting the increased mental health needs of children, youth and families. This year’s event will highlight ongoing positive work in New York State that addresses workforce challenges, staff support, demonstrates innovative practices and builds resiliency in supporting the mental health of children and youth. We will come together to celebrate and honor the exemplary work that is being done across NYS in an event on May 9, 2023. Stay tuned for more details about the event. Click here to nominate!

Caught in Washington’s Youth Mental Health Disaster, a Teen with Nowhere to Go

Innovative Study Seeks to Improve Suicide Prevention for College Students

Novel Approach to Recovery After Attempted Suicide

Maine’s Prisons Taught Washington a Crucial Lesson in Fighting Opioids

The Relentless Mental Toll of Public Defense


Forensic Peer Specialists: Partners for Effective Re-entry and Recovery

January 13, 12 - 1 pm, SMI Advisors

Prioritizing Tobacco Treatment in Substance Use and Recovery Masterclass

January 17, 2 - 4 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

Supporting the Health and Well-Being of Rural LGBTQ Adults

January 18, 1 - 2 pm, Rural Health Research Gateway

Advancing Trauma- and Resilience-Informed Health Care Systems: Early Lessons from Denver Health

January 18, 1:30 - 3 pm, Center for Health Care Strategies

Reframing Language in Behavioral Health Care: New Tools You Can Use

January 18, 2 - 3:30 pm, Hosted by four centers of excellence: Family Support, African American, Aging, and LGBTQ+ behavioral health

Information Session: RFA - Partnering with Schools to Improve Youth Mental Health: Learning Collaborative Opportunity

January 18, 4 - 5 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

Co-Occurring Disorders: a conversation about Mental Health and Substance Misuse/Addiction

January 18, 7:30 - 8:30 pm, MHANYS

Supporting Providers of Color in the Pediatric Workforce: Practices to Diversify the Workforce and Improve Retention

January 19, 12 - 1:30 pm, Center for Health Care Strategies

Supporting Youth with High Acuity Crisis and Suicidal Needs

January 19, 2 - 3 pm, NASMHPD and Vibrant 

988: It is NOT just a number- Webinar #1

January 20, 12:30 - 2:30 pm, National Academy of Sciences

988: It is NOT just a number- Webinar #2

January 23, 12:30 - 2:30 pm, National Academy of Sciences

Trauma-Informed Peer Support for Justice-Involved Peers

January 23 - 26, 1 - 4 pm, Mental Health Empowerment Project 

PSYCKES for Health Homes and Care Management Agencies

January 24, 10 - 11:30 am, OMH

Rapid-Fire Retention Strategies: How To Improve Behavioral Healthcare Provider Retention

January 25, 2 - 3 pm, Relias

County Strategies to Recruit and Retain a Strong Behavioral Health Workforce

January 26, 2 - 3 pm, NACo

An aging undocumented population: Implications for complex care and communities

January 26, 3 - 4 pm, Camden Coalition

Where to Start: Getting Access to PSYCKES

January 31, 11 am - 12 pm, OMH

Reducing Jail Populations: Revisiting Technical Violations of Community Supervision to Decrease Jail

February 2, 2 - 3 pm, NACo

NYS OMH DFS Spotlight of Innovative Diversion Services

February 8, 10:30 am - 12 pm, OMH Division of Forensic Services

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Plus – Building a Culture of Inclusion

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

Data-Informed Care and Advocacy in Addiction Treatment

February 9, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Mental Wellbeing



Addiction Services & Recovery Committee Meeting

January 12: 11 am - 12 pm

Mental Health Committee Meeting

January 12: 3 - 4 pm

CLMHD Office Closed - MLK Jr. Day

January 16

Children & Families Committee Meeting

January 17: 11:30 am - 1 pm

CLMHD Membership Call

January 18: 9 - 10:30 am


Executive Committee Meeting

February 1: 8 - 9 am

AOT Coordinators Call

February 7: 10 - 11:30 am

LGU Billing Staff Call

February 7: 11 am - 12 pm

Addiction Services & Recovery Committee Meeting

February 9: 11 am - 12 pm

Developmental Disabilities Committee Meeting

February 9: 1 - 2:30 pm

Mental Health Committee Meeting

February 9: 3 - 4 pm

LGU Clinic Operators Call

February 14: 10 - 11:30 am

CLMHD Membership Call

February 15: 9 - 10:30 am

Mental Hygiene Planning Committee Meeting

February 16: 1 - 3 pm

CLMHD Office Closed - Presidents Day

February 20

Children & Families Committee Meeting

February 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)
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