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Mental Health Update

June 11, 2020
Mental Health Update

MH Update – 6/11/20 – Assemblymember Gunther Introduces Bill to Create a Trauma Informed Task Force in Conjunction with MHANYS

We thank Assemblymember Gunther for her leadership in introducing a bill that would create a trauma-informed task force comprised of leading experts in the field. We are in an environment that is unprecedented in the traumatic impact to our workforce. Our brave frontline workers have been under siege from COVID-19. Both the short and long term traumatic impact will be felt through increased anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, substance use and other behavioral health issues. This advisory council comprised of both state agencies and community experts will help provide resources and support and develop a statewide trauma informed plan for those in greatest need.

We will be advocating for additional support in both houses

In addition to Assembly member Gunther and her staff, we also want to acknowledge the internal work of MHANYS Director of Family Engagement Deb Faust and Public Policy Director John Richter for helping to inform the process through their dedicated efforts.

RULES COM (Request of Gunther)
Add §7.48, Ment Hyg L
Establishes the frontline workers trauma informed care advisory council to connect frontline workers impacted by COVID-19 to evidenced-based trauma-informed support resources and learning opportunities.

 STATE OF NEW YORK        ________________________________________________________________________                                           10629            IN ASSEMBLY    June 10, 2020                                       ___________

Introduced  by COMMITTEE ON RULES — (at request of M. of A. Gunther) —  read once and referred to the Committee on Mental Health

AN ACT to amend the mental hygiene law, in relation to establishing  the frontline workers trauma informed care advisory council

The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:      1    Section 1. The mental hygiene law is amended by adding a  new  section

2  7.48 to read as follows:

§ 7.48 Frontline workers trauma informed care advisory council.

4    (a)  The  commissioner  shall  establish  the frontline workers trauma

informed care advisory council within  the  office.  The  council  shall

consist  of,  at a minimum, the commissioner or his or her designee; the

commissioner of the department of health or his  or  her  designee;  the

commissioner  of  aging  or his or her designee; the commissioner of the

office for people with developmental disabilities or his or  her  desig-

10  nee;  the commissioner of the office for addiction services and supports

11  or  his  or  her  designee;  the  commissioner  of  the  department   of

12  corrections and community supervision; and twenty-one additional members

13  of  which  seven  shall  be  appointed  by  the  governor,  six shall be

14  appointed by the speaker of the assembly, six  shall  appointed  by  the

15  temporary  president  of  the senate, and one each shall be appointed by

16  the minority leader of the  assembly  and  the  senate.  Each  appointed

17  member  shall  be  a representative of one of the following:  (1) behav-

18  ioral health advocacy organizations; (2) health care provider  organiza-

19  tions;  (3)  employee  organizations  representing  nurses, doctors, and

20  other frontline workers;  (4)  human  services  organizations;  (5)  law

21  enforcement  agencies;  (6)  individuals who have expertise in fields of

22  discipline related to trauma informed care; and any other group, associ-

23  ation, organization, or individual deemed appropriate by the commission-

24  er. For purposes of this section, frontline workers shall  include,  but

25  shall  not  be  limited to, healthcare workers, first responders, direct

26  care  workers,  public  safety  workers,  transportation  workers,  food

27  service  workers  and  others who have been exposed to trauma associated

EXPLANATION–Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets  [ ] is old law to be omitted.                                                                   LBD16681-01-0        A. 10629  2

with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic  while  in  the  line  of


3    (b)  Council  members shall receive no compensation for their services

as members of the council, but shall be reimbursed for actual and neces-

sary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.  The  members

of  the  council  shall  choose one member of the council to be a chair-

person and one member to be co-chairperson.

8    (c) The council shall be established within thirty days of the  effec-

tive date of this section.

10    (d) The council shall:

11    (1)  Identify  evidence-based  tools  to  track the impact of COVID-19

12  associated collective trauma and the needs of frontline workers;

13    (2) Identify or develop training opportunities for organizations  that

14  employ  frontline  workers on how to support the mental health and well-

15  ness of their impacted employees;

16    (3) Identify evidenced-based  trauma-informed  support  resources  and

17  learning opportunities for frontline workers;

18    (4)  Identify  or  develop  a  mechanism  to inform and refer impacted

19  frontline workers experiencing  symptoms  associated  with  COVID-19  to

20  behavioral health services and supports;

21    (5)  Consult  with  any  organization,  government  entity, agency, or

22  person that the council determines may be able  to  provide  information

23  and  expertise  on the development and implementation of trauma informed

24  care for frontline workers; and

25    (6) Submit a report to the governor, the speaker of the assembly,  and

26  the  temporary  president  of the senate by December first, two thousand

27  twenty on the duties described in this  section,  including  recommenda-

28  tions to effectively implement any initiative identified or developed by

29  the workgroup and included in its report.

30    (e)  To  the  extent federal funds are available, grants shall be made

31  available to entities that employ frontline workers or  other  organiza-

32  tions  with  relevant  experience,  for  the  sole  purpose of providing

33  support and implementing strategies or  initiatives  identified  by  the

34  frontline workers trauma informed care workgroup for their workforce.

35    § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)


SPONSOR: Rules (Gunther)

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the mental hygiene law, in relation to establishing thefrontline workers trauma informed care advisory council

PURPOSE: To establish an advisory council within the Office of Mental Health that would ensure the trauma related behavioral health needs of essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic are met

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 adds a new section 7.48 to the Mental Hygiene Law to establish the parameters of the Frontline Workers Trauma Informed Care Advisory Council within the Office of Mental Health. The council shall issue are port to the Legislature no later than December 1, 2020. Section 2 establishes the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION: Collective trauma is a psychological trauma experienced by a group of people of any size, up to and including an entire society in response to a mass traumatizing event. Mental health researchers are already anticipating that there will be collective trauma associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In the broadest sense, this collective trauma will be experienced globally, but more specifically, it will be experienced disproportionately by certain subgroups of people exposed more directly to the impact of the pandemic, such as frontline workers. Anticipating the mental health needs of these workers is essential for their own personal well-being and for those individuals who rely on their vital care. At this time, it is uncertain how long this pandemic will last or how long it will be before some sense of normalcy is restored. It is critical, however, to plan now for mental health interventions to be put in place in anticipation of the emotional and psychological needs of these frontline workers. Based on our knowledge of trauma, and by extension collective trauma, we can anticipate that many of these individuals will experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, depression and substance use disorders. The impact of these disorders will include absenteeism, disability and unemployment, which can compound health care and mental health care access issues. This advisory council will ensure that trauma related behavioral health needs of essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic are met.



EFFECTIVE DATE:This act shall take effect immediately.