January 8, 2021
Passing of Isidore Shapiro, Founding Member of NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors

The Conference wishes to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Isidore "Izzy" Shapiro upon his recent passing. On behalf of our staff, as well as past and present DCSs and Mental Health Commissioners, we express our utmost gratitude to Izzy for his role as a founding member of the Conference. More than 40 years ago, he recognized the need for a formal platform to represent the interests of every County Commissioner whose life’s work is to support adults and children affected by mental illness, substance use disorder and developmental disabilities in their communities. Isadore Shapiro’s legacy will be honored by the Conference as we continue to advocate for and support the County DCSs and Mental Health Commissioners across the state. You may click here to view the obituary.
Suffolk County Heroin and Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel Releases 2020 Final Report

On December 29, 2020, Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker and the members of the Suffolk County Heroin and Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel announced the release of their 2020 final report.

The report includes a detailed outline of the panel’s actions and findings of the past year, goals for the new year, beneficial Suffolk County resources, and links to other reports pertaining to the heroin and opioid epidemic. The Suffolk County Heroin and Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel was created via resolution 704-2017 Establishing a Permanent Heroin and Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel sponsored by Legislator Sarah Anker. Legislator Anker drafted the resolution in response to the growing opioid and substance abuse epidemic in Suffolk County and across the nation. Read more here.
‘Relapsing Left and Right’: Trying to Overcome Addiction in a Pandemic

Jackie Ré, who runs a substance-use disorder facility in New Jersey, gathered the 12 female residents of her center in the living room on March 27 and told them that the coronavirus outbreak had forced the center to limit contact with the outside world.

There was an immediate outcry: The women already felt disconnected and didn’t want their sense of isolation exacerbated, Ms. Ré said.

Within the next six months, nine left the program at Haley House in Blairstown against staff advice, and all but one relapsed.

“It’s been a nightmare,” Ms. Ré said. “For one woman it was a matter of days, another less than a week. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Read more here.

Additional articles of interest: The pandemic has hit addiction recovery hard.

Funding Opportunity: Opioid Affected Youth Initiative

Funding and technical assistance for states, local governments, and tribal jurisdictions to develop and implement a data-driven, coordinated, statewide or community-wide response system to assist with the identification, prevention, treatment, enforcement, and deterrence needed to address the opioid epidemic and its impact on youth and communities.

Geographic coverage: Nationwide and U.S. territories
Application Deadline: Feb 8, 2021 

Click here for more information.


Addiction Services & Recovery Committee Meeting
January 14: 11 am - 12 pm, GTM

CLMHD Office Closed - MLK Jr. Day
January 18

Children & Families Committee Meeting
January 19: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

CLMHD Membership Call
January 20: 9 - 10:30 am, GTM


Executive Committee Meeting
February 3: 8 am, GTM

AOT Coordinators Meeting
February 5: 10 - 11:30 am, GTM

Addiction Services & Recovery Committee Meeting
February 11: 11 am - 12 pm, GTM

Children & Families Committee Meeting
February 16: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

CLMHD Membership Call
February 17: 9 - 10:30 am, GTM

Developmental Disabilities Committee Meeting
February 18: 1 - 2:30 pm, GTM

Mental Hygiene Planning Committee Meeting
February 23: 1 - 3 pm, GTM

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and GoToMeeting (GTM) information, 518.462.9422 
Governor Cuomo Announces Proposal to Legalize and Create an Equitable Adult-use Cannabis Program as Part of the 2021 State of the State

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo this week announced a proposal to legalize and create a comprehensive system to oversee and regulate cannabis in New York as part of the 2021 State of the State. Under the Governor's proposal, a new Office of Cannabis Management would be created to oversee the new adult-use program, as well as the State's existing medical and cannabinoid hemp programs. Additionally, an equitable structure for the adult-use market will be created by offering licensing opportunities and assistance to entrepreneurs in communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Once fully implemented, legalization is expected to generate more than $300 million in tax revenue. Read more here.
County Executives Offer Vaccine Help and Called for Increased Cooperation and Information Sharing with the State’s Distribution Efforts

With New York State reaching grim milestones in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths; county executives from around the state held a press briefing today where they pledged to help the state increase their vaccine distribution efforts.  
Download a video of the press conference here.
“Since the beginning of this pandemic, county leaders have been the onsite generals in this battle against the novel coronavirus. Now, they are sitting on the bench waiting to get into the vaccine game so that they can do their part in the next phase of this pandemic,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. Read more here.

The Future of Public Mental Healthcare Post Pandemic

A new article, published in Psychiatric Services in Advance, explores how the New York State (NYS) public mental health system has fared during the COVID-19 pandemic. This exploration allows for insight into how public mental health systems can be redesigned to be more efficient as we continue to weather the pandemic and brace for what the future will hold post-pandemic.

The authors, leaders of the NYS public mental health system, offer suggestions for directions that the mental health field can move in to improve practice and policy. Thomas Smith, Chief Medical Officer of the NYS Office of Mental Health, and his co-authors write:

“When the pandemic wanes, the crisis will evolve into an opportunity for redesigning public mental health systems. Large budget deficits due to the pandemic will create a further impetus for system redesign.” Read more here.
BHN Releases Winter 2021 Issue

Click here to read the latest issue.
Funding for Mental Health in NYS at Risk Despite New Stimulus Bill

The $900 billion stimulus package became law after months of contentious debates in Congress.

The bill includes a $600 stimulus check to qualified Americans (the second stimulus check since the start of the pandemic), extending unemployment benefits, funding for schools, a boost to vaccine distribution, and $4.25 billion for mental health and substance use disorders.

Throughout the pandemic, mental and behavioral health needs have surged — both nationally and in Western New York. Three counties in the region reported an increase in opioid deaths by overdoses and more Americans screen positive for symptoms of depression and anxiety than before.

It did not include funding for local and state governments — many of which face a deficit including New York. Read more here.
‘Every Day is an Emergency’: The Pandemic is Worsening Psychiatric Bed Shortages Nationwide

The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically cut the availability of inpatient psychiatric beds, with facilities across the country forced to reduce their capacity to meet social distancing requirements, stem outbreaks of the virus, or repurpose psychiatric beds to care for the surge of Covid-19 patients.

The crisis — combined with years of mental health care budget cuts, rising demand for mental health care, and an existing shortage of both psychiatric beds and providers — appears to have put health care systems on a wartime footing.

“Every day is an emergency,” said Vincent Carrodeguas, CEO of Miami based Banyan Health Systems. “I hate to say it but our job right now is to normalize a crisis that has been going on for nine months. Calls to our centers are up 40 to 50% and our vulnerable behavioral health population has skyrocketed.” Read more here.

Small Number of Covid Patients Develop Severe Psychotic Symptoms

Almost immediately, Dr. Hisam Goueli could tell that the patient who came to his psychiatric hospital on Long Island this summer was unusual.

The patient, a 42-year-old physical therapist and mother of four young children, had never had psychiatric symptoms or any family history of mental illness. Yet there she was, sitting at a table in a beige-walled room at South Oaks Hospital in Amityville, N.Y., sobbing and saying that she kept seeing her children, ages 2 to 10, being gruesomely murdered and that she herself had crafted plans to kill them.

“It was like she was experiencing a movie, like ‘Kill Bill,’” Dr. Goueli, a psychiatrist, said. Read more here.
Centene to Acquire Magellan for $2.2 Billion in Cash

Giant health insurer Centene Corp. announced this week that it has agreed to pay $2.2 billion in cash for Magellan Health Inc., the large behavioral health care manager.

Completing the deal would add 21 million behavioral health program enrollees from Magellan to the 20 million people in Centene’s own behavioral health programs. This would be timely especially when the COVID-19 pandemic has focused attention on concerns about depression, anxiety, substance use disorders and the effects the virus that causes COVID-19 has on the brain.

Direct spending on behavioral health care accounts for about 15% of all claims at health insurers, employer plans, government plans and other “payers,” according to a Centene. Read more here.

NY State Lawmakers Look to Trim Youth Prison Costs

State and local governments are limping into a second year facing off with budgets decimated by the coronavirus. In New York state, some lawmakers are eyeing one item freighted with financial and moral burdens: the sky-high cost of youth prisons.

In November, The Imprint and The Citizen reported on the escalating expenses at state-operated detention facilities that have reached an annual average of nearly $900,000 per youth.

Now, informed of those costs, some legislators say they’re angry about the price tag and want to redirect that money to approaches that deliver better results. Read more here.
SAMHSA Releases New Report: Executive Order Saving Lives Through Increased Support for Mental and Behavioral Health Needs

SAMHSA has released the “Executive Order Saving Lives Through Increased Support for Mental and Behavioral Health Needs Report,” which outlines a plan to address the mental and behavioral health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that is anticipated to continue worsening and have a long-term impact on the entire population. The report also makes recommendations from federal agencies to address these important issues.
New Audio-Only Telemedicine Bill to Expand Telehealth Beyond the Pandemic

During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (the “CMS”) relaxed some rules to expand access to telehealth, including through audio-only communication platforms. With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the public health emergency is expected to be brought to an end. As such, the emergency measures temporarily put in place will expire, leaving many patients in rural areas and lower-income households without access to telehealth services.

survey from a digital behavioral health company, Triduum, found that 81% of behavioral healthcare providers began using telehealth for the first time in the past six months due to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. According to Triduum, healthcare professionals have recognized the overall improvement in consistency of treatment, adherence to treatment and recommendations. For example, patients felt more comfortable discussing mental health condition from the comfort of their home. All of these positive changes are associated with the shift to virtual care. Read more here.

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)