Yesterday, MHANYS testified at the Assembly Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, on the impact of COVID to treatment services in the addictions community. We thank Assembly members Rosenthal and Gottfried for their leadership as well as the members of their committees for their participation. We were very appreciative of the opportunity to answer questions about veterans mental health, family engagement, school mental health as well as the need for integrated services for those with co-occurring mental health and substance use issues.
We continued to highlight the impact of the twenty percent withholds to the entire behavioral health community (great job by fellow advocates in amplifying the message), the importance of trauma informed care and the significance of family engagement in the substance use arena. Deb Faust, MHANYS Director of Family Engagement, was able to present on the MHANYS CAREPATH product line that has been used as a whole health model for engaging families and their loved ones in a collaborative effort built on the underpinnings of the SAMSHA Eight Dimensions of Wellnes
At the hearing, I also shared my son’s personal journey to recovery from addiction. He will be three years clean in five days (excuse a proud father for bragging about the strength and resilience of his son). My reason was also to identify the lack of resources available for families who were going through their own trauma. My wife and I had to deal with the blame, anxiety, fear, isolation and trauma of witnessing what was happening to our son. Thankfully, we have tools like the CAREPATH that successfully bring together families and their loved ones.
My wife and I are thankful every day for our son’s recovery and we know we are the lucky ones. Great parents of wonderful children have lost loved ones to addiction. Addiction does not discriminate. Certainly it does not discriminate during COVID when the percentage increase of those who die from overdose has dramatically increased. At the same time as this is happening, the counties and in turn community providers in mental health and addiction disorders are facing a twenty percent cut in services which would create devastation in the community.
The message yesterday from our end was loud and clear that the behavioral health community needs help to make sure withholds do not become cuts. We are open to any option that will support restoration of our services whether the money come from the federal stimulus package or tax revenues from the State or any other option. We need to be made whole to support the burgeoning number of people in a behavioral health crisis.