Given that one in four people in New York have a mental illness (and if you
add family members and close friends, we are all impacted), it is no
surprise that virtually every initiative in the almost 400 pages of the
State of the State has an impact to the mental health community. That
said, we have streamlined our synopsis by focusing on the initiatives that
most impact MHANYS.

Among the highlights of the State of the State was the Governor’s
recognition of the Mental Health Education in Schools Initiatives. Other
proposals of great interest include initiatives to improve access to
education assistance and promotion of career advancement scholarships for
non-profit employees; bail reform proposals; funding for Raise the Age
Implementation; non-profits to access group insurance through the Empire
Plan; insurance companies limiting pre-authorization and co-payments for
outpatient addiction programs; linking ACT teams with Homeless Shelters and
Reduction of Solitary Confinement.

This is a very aggressive and positive set of initiatives that we strongly
support and we thank the Governor for his leadership on these issues.

Among the specific concerns left unaddressed include the continued funding
for direct care and clinical staffs in the human service field ; issues of
mental health public awareness were not referenced (including Mental Health
First Aid); funding for the Bring It Home campaign was not directly
addressed; and continued reinvestment funding was not discussed. However,
even though they are not referenced in the State of the State, several of
these could be reflected in the budget which is of much greater
significance. We will find out more in a few weeks after the Governor
introduces the budget.

We have focused on those of greatest priority in our review (please note
our editorial comments are bolded)

1) Mental Health Education in Schools

· We are very pleased that Governor Cuomo referenced the Mental
Health Education in School Initiative which will be implemented in the 2018
school year. *His referencing in the State of the State makes it a front
burner issue and one that MHANYS and our partners in the education and
mental health community will monitor to insure schools are provided with
the resources and technical assistance necessary to operationalize the law.*

· $250,000 invested in Community Schools to enhance mental health
services, wrap around funding and improving school climates

· Emphasis on Community Schools with funding directed to family
engagement and links to non-profit community based organizations (including
MHAs)

2) Workforce Development for Non-Profits

· 18% of State Private Sector Workforce is employed by not for
profits

· Enabling non-profits to access group insurance coverage through
the NYSHIP Empire Plan

· Improve access to educational assistance and promote career
advancement scholarships for non-profit employees (*This initiative is
intriguing for the workforce, but there needs to be a way to fund this
program to insure that the not for profits do not have to pay for the
funding and that there is assurances that the individual taking advantage
of educational assistance would stay in the human services sector)*

· Development of a Non Profit Workforce Development and Steering
Committee *(Important to have outside human services agencies including
mental health providers as part of this committee*)

3) Criminal Justice Reform and Juvenile Justice

· Bail Reform—People facing misdemeanor and non-violent felony
charges must be released and they must be released without cash bail.
Monetary bail would be permitted by not required in remaining cases, after
an individualized assessment of the nature of the case and defendants
personal and financial circumstances (*Many people who fall into this
situation are individuals with mental illness who are arrested for minor
crimes and end up in jails awaiting a hearing—This initiative would
strongly support those individuals)*

· Reduction of Solitary Confinement—Calling for reduction of over
1200 solitary confinement beds. *As part of the HALT Coalition, we strongly
support this initiative and urge the Governor to go even further and end
solitary confinement for all individuals with a serious mental health issue*

· Raise the Age Implementation—$100 million over the next fiscal
year to implement Raise the Age through effective prevention, diversion and
treatment and re-entry

4) Homeless Outreach

· Outreach to street homelessness as part of an integrated
strategies involving reports from Local Departments of Social Services

· Connecting ACT Teams to Existing Shelters (*We strongly support
this initiative and increased expansion of ACT teams)*

· On Site Peer delivered Substance Abuse Treatment Services
Available to 14 existing shelters serving close to 200 homeless individuals
with substance abuse disorders

5) Opioids and Pain Management Strategies

· Protections Against Addictions Stemming from prescription opioids

· Insurance companies must limit requirements for prior
authorization and co-payments for outpatient addiction treatment

· Creation of a Statewide Pain Management Steering Committee

· 250 Certified Peer Recover Advocates to assist in engaging
individuals in seeking treatment and sustaining recovery after treatment

6) Veterans Issues

· Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will work
with licensed social workers engaging incarcerated veterans

· Inclusion of Veterans Specific Curriculum for incarcerated
individuals

7) Other Iniatives that Directly Impact Individuals with Mental Health
Issues

· Long Term Planning Council for the Elderly

· Telehealth in Rural Areas including initiatives under Medicaid so
that individuals can receive telehealth services in wider range of settings
including homes

· First 1000 Days Initiative includes launching of peer navigation
services in non-health care community settings such as family homeless
shelters and drug treatment centers. Also provide parents of young children
with improved access to evidence based payment child therapy models

· Student Loan Ombudsman at Department of Financial *Services (We
are very supportive, but this iniative should be strengthened to provide
loan forgiveness for individuals pursuing degrees in fields related to
mental health)*

· Hiring of At Risk Youth (ages 16—24) through business tax credits
through the New York Youth Jobs Programs. Proposal is to increase the tax
credit *(Many of these at risk youth have a mental health diagnosis.
Helping to provide employment is an important step forward in their
recovery)*

Glenn Liebman, CEO
gliebman@mhanys.org

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