There has been much done within the MHANYS network over the past year. We
are very proud to work with our partners in the Legislature and the
Executive, our colleagues and most importantly our members in raising the
bar around community services in mental health, advocacy and education.

New York State Budget

Throughout the budget process, MHANYS and our colleagues were integral in
getting workforce funding increases for the direct care workforce and
clinical staffs in the behavioral health fields. This is the first
significant funding increase in many years and reflects all of our members
and colleagues speaking with the same voice for the desperate needs of our
workforce. Special thanks to our colleagues at the bFair2Direct Care
Campaign for their leadership in raising the disparity issues around living
wages for the community

During the budget process, we were also very involved in enhanced funding
for priority areas including Suicide Prevention, Reinvestment Funding,
Housing Rates, Mental Health First Aid and Veterans Mental Health and
Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT). Our annual Mental Health Matters
Legislative Day brought over two hundred people to Albany. This is our most
powerful day of the year as we bring together MHA members marching
alongside veterans mental health groups, fellow advocates, high school
students, peers, Eating Disorders Treatment advocates and family members
with us all echoing the same chant that ‘Mental Health Matters’ to all of

Medicaid Managed Care and HARP Benefit

We also have been very engaged with advocacy in Medicaid Managed Care and
HARPS benefits. We continue to advocate for increased funding for HCBS
Designated providers as an integral part of increasing the number of
individuals receiving HARP benefits in their plan of care. Both the
Department of Health and the Office of Mental Health have been very
receptive to our concerns and we look forward to continuing to play an
integral role in this issue. We also were very supportive of the BHIT
funding for MHANYS and our members as a way to provide the Medicaid
infrastructure necessary to bill for services. We have also advocated for
a strengthened role for family engagement as part of the HCBS Services
structure. We have also work with our colleagues at the Independent Living
Center to help bring up concerns in regard to transition to HCBS services
for individuals with behavioral health issues residing in nursing homes.

Our MHA members from across the state represent a high percentage of
individuals who are taking advantage of HARP benefits. We must continue to
provide the necessary resources and infrastructure to continue to provide
those quality services.

Anti-Stigma and Education

We also have played a strong role in anti-stigma, training and education
efforts. This year we worked with our mental health chairs, Senator Robert
Ortt and Assemblymember Aileen Gunther and the Governor to pass
legislation creating a license plate specifically designed for mental
health public awareness that will be unveiled in the next several weeks.
Our members across the State have trained over a thousand people in Mental
Health First Aid, a wonderful training curriculum that helps raise
awareness and support for individuals in mental health crisis. This year,
through Mental Health First Aid we were able to continue to reach out to
law enforcement professionals, providers of aging services and individuals
who work with Transitional Age Youth as well as with the general public.

Mental Health Education in Schools

One of the accomplishments this year within our network is the continued
work we are doing to raise awareness about the legislation that provides
mandatory mental health teaching in schools and to play primary role in
partnership with the State Education Department (SED) in the implementation
of the new law. Beginning on July 1, 2018, Schools throughout New York
State must have health educators provide mental health trainings in school.
Through our partnership with the State Education Department (SED), we have
created a joint committee of mental health professionals and educators who
will help in development of core curriculum for health educators in
schools. This past year we held a one day forum at Albany Law School on
mental health education in schools. We were pleased to have State Education
Commissioner MaryEllen Elia as our keynote speaker. Both Commissioner Elia
and Mental Health Commissioner, Dr. Ann Sullivan have been huge supporters
and champions of mental health education in schools. We were very pleased
to have them both speak at our annual conference this year. Through the
last year, we have also developed some strong relationships with many
organizations in the education community including School Boards,
Superintendents, School Social Workers, Teacher’s Union, and other interest
groups who we’ve presented to.

MHANYS has developed a White Paper on mental health education in schools
that has received a great deal of interest in both the education and mental
health communities. Though we have distributed it several times, it is
worth noting if you have not yet read it. It can be printed at


We are looking forward to 2018 with renewed vigor. No one in our field ever
stands on their laurels. There is always way too much real work that needs
to be done. We are facing a year of enormous budget deficits and
unfortunately when that happens, mental health funding is very vulnerable.
We are also continuing our efforts to accelerate the time frame for
additional funding for the mental health workforce and we are part of the
Bring It Home campaign, started by our friends at ACL, to raise housing
rates for providers working with individuals with psychiatric disabilities.
Legislatively we will continue to raise awareness about mental health
education in schools and supporting legislation that would provide teachers
with mental health education as part of their certification process,
legislation that would also provide tuition reimbursements for people
coming into the Mental Health Field, HALT bill legislation that would ban
solitary confinement for individuals with mental health disorders among
several other categories, legislation around adult home payments directly
provided to residents PNA, legislation related to trauma and ACES and
issues of problem gambling and mental health.

Thank You

Finally, I want to thank all of you. We have well over four thousand people
on our list serve, not to mention the people that pass it on to their
colleagues and friends. Many of the people in the list serve are fellow
advocates who continue to fight for community mental health services,
anti-stigma efforts and mental health education. The major reason why we
were able to help lead the charge for new legislation over the last
several years is through your dedication and grass roots support. Remember
that every phone call you make or e-mail you write, makes a huge difference
in getting the support and funding we need to reform our current system of

Happy New Year and lets bring on 2018 with the same passion and energy that
has made the mental health advocacy community in New York one of the most
respected in the nation.


P.S. Remember to put March 14th on your calendar for MHANYS ‘Mental Health
Matters’ Legislative Day.

Glenn Liebman, CEO

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