Health Association in New York State, Inc.
Friday Fax from Albany
OMH Releases Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Mental Health Services 2004-2008: Last week, just a few days after the release of the Governor’s 2004-2005 Executive Budget Proposal, the State Office of Mental Health released the newest version of the Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Mental Health Services 2004-2008. As part of the requirements under Section 5.07 of the NYS Mental Hygiene Law, OMH “shall formulate a statewide comprehensive five-year plan for the provision of all state and local services for the mentally ill.”
While MHANYS is only partially through this 233-page document, it is apparent that this document differs from the ones released in the past few years. The executive summary of the report specifically states:
While the jury is still out on whether this document meets the statutory requirements of §5.07, it does appear, as does the Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal, to be a step in the right direction.
The complete executive summary of the Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Mental Health Services 2004-2008 follows and the entire report can be obtained at http://www.omh.state.ny.us/omhweb/statewideplan/507Plan0408_Final_CBL.pdf.
THIS STATEWIDE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN for Mental Health Services 2004-2008 is prepared in compliance with Mental Hygiene Law, Section 5.07. It represents a continuation of the Office of Mental Health’s commitment to insure that New Yorkers have appropriate access to the highest possible quality of mental health care.
The Plan represents a departure from previous documents in two important respects. First, it combines future planning directions as required by statute with a description of agency progress during the period 2001-2003. Second, it encompasses a broad range of topics beyond the scope of services to adults with serious mental illness and children with serious emotional disorders. In addition to describing program initiatives and future plans for both of these major target groups, the Plan provides valuable information concerning a broader agenda of public mental health promotion through education and advocacy. These dual agency functions of ensuring access to high quality, science-based interventions for people with major service needs while promoting positive mental health is a departure from previous plans, which have mainly addressed the operations of State Psychiatric Centers and outlined anticipated improvements in building a community based system of care.
It is the intent of the Plan to broaden the planning horizon. Building a community based system of care continues to be a priority in New York State and will continue to be a major focus for program and policy development during the 2004-2008 planning period. To reinforce the intent to create holistic, person-centered systems of local care, it is necessary to develop a planning platform that is wider ranging than those used in the past. Throughout the Plan, the factual information presented is supported by important supplemental materials and statistical information contained in a series of appendices. In the appendices State and local data are displayed in an integrated fashion and shown at county-specific levels. The data are also displayed by auspice (e.g., private, general, and State-operated hospitals) where helpful.
These layers of detail are intended to generate interest toward an analytical, population-based planning approach, which is used in some areas of public health but is not widespread in public mental health. Population-based planning is described in Chapter 2 and embedded in discussions on service utilization, inpatient care, performance measurement, and adult and children services. These examples are intended to generate interest in localities toward developing data-driven, results-oriented specific plans for different target groups and services throughout the State.
A starting point for this planning approach is presented in Chapter 4, which includes considerable detail on issues concerning inpatient capacity, utilization, costs, and preliminary outcome measurement indicators for both State and local sectors. The Plan’s discussion of inpatient services is a way to introduce a new series of local planning forums intended to create a collaborative and transparent approach to determining how resources are currently used and can best be used to maximize outcomes. A focus on positive social outcomes such as recovery and community integration is the motivation for proposing this person-centered, location specific approach to service system planning.
The Plan is presented with the perspective that readers will review certain areas and be inspired to request further inquiry and insight concerning the nature of mental health care in New York State. There are specifics in the Plan on how the OMH strategic planning framework, the ABC’s of mental health, is being implemented, with discussion of accountability structures at the local-level, ongoing commitment to the evidence-based practice initiatives both underway and anticipated in adult and children’s arenas, and care coordination efforts through new advances in technology and decision support. These advances are all informed by a series of guiding principles, which stress the importance of community inclusion, community integration, and the highest possible standards of care. The Plan also presents detailed discussion on advances in management information, research, and emerging ideas in public mental health promotion – particularly plans for a new statewide suicide prevention campaign. While the Plan’s chapters all describe activities anticipated to occur during the 2004-2008 planning period, Chapter 10 summarizes how the major ideas presented throughout the document are integrated within OMH’s strategic planning framework and specific, strategic initiatives delineated for accomplishment by 2008.
Timothy’s Law in the News:
seeks to rally support for Timothy's Law. By James M. Odato
Albany-- Rotterdam resident presents petitions urging passage of mental health coverage measure
Using the red wagon his son once played in, Thomas O'Claire on Monday wheeled 5,000 petitions to Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno's office.
The petitions called for a law named after Timothy O'Claire, a 12-year-old who killed himself three years ago after several bouts with depression.
Timothy's Law would require insurance companies to cover mental health and substance abuse treatments as they do other ailments.
took off from his lunch hour at the Thruway Authority to join representatives
of social work and psychiatric associations to present the petitions,
collected statewide, to Bruno.
O'Claire and his wife, Donna, of Rotterdam, met with Bruno in October, and "I walked away from that meeting with a very good feeling," O'Claire said.
The Assembly passed Timothy's Law, sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, last year. The law has been introduced in the Senate by Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, chairman of the Mental Health Committee.
O'Claire and other advocates of the law are scheduled to meet with Bruno's staff again later this week.
Senate Republicans have been concerned that insurance costs could sharply rise if the measure passes. Several groups, including the Employer Alliance for Affordable Health Care, are lobbying against the bill. Citing six consecutive years of double-digit health insurance premium increases, the alliance Monday called for a moratorium on any new health coverage mandates until cost and efficacy evaluations are performed.
The O'Claires say the measure is needed to avoid the care problems they encountered when they sought treatments for Timothy. They say they had to turn their son over to the state after exhausting their mental health coverage.
Crowning Glory To Fight Depression. By John Hildebrand
Anyone struggling with mental illness, teenagers especially, may find it hard to admit they face a serious medical problem - one that requires taking pills, maybe hospitalization.
Well, if parents, counselors and psychiatrists can't get the message across, maybe a pageant winner can.
"When I say 'mentally ill,' who thinks Miss New York State?" asks the current title holder. She's facing an audience of seventh- and eighth-graders at Manhasset Middle School, few of whom raise their hands.
Any student misconceptions soon will be exploded, however. Miss New York State is about to explain that she has suffered from major depression most of her 25 years, and that this is not something one can escape simply by looking good in a rhinestone tiara.
She does look good, of course. Her name is Jessica Lynch (no relation to the former prisoner of war in Iraq), and she won the Miss New York competition in June, before going on to the Miss America competition in September. Since then, Lynch has appeared at schools and hospitals across the state, trying to raise public awareness of teenage depression and how to cope with it.
At first glance, Lynch herself appears almost relentlessly upbeat. She is animated and articulate, a graduate of a top-flight university, with large hazel eyes, golden-brown hair and a jazz dancer's body.
She surprises students, therefore, when she acknowledges that she spent time in a psychiatric hospital as a teenager. She now takes 10 pills a day - Ritalin to improve her concentration, plus anti-depressants and mood stabilizers.
"You would never think that a person who did all that stuff would be Miss New York," says one Manhasset seventh-grader, Glen Tompkins, after he has heard Lynch's story.
So what, exactly, does Miss New York State have to be depressed about?
It's a natural enough question, for people unfamiliar with such disorders. But it misses the point. Depression, like other mental illnesses, is not something caused primarily by setbacks in life - all suggestions to the contrary by TV dramas, notwithstanding.
Severe depression is a biological disorder, thought to result from an imbalance in brain chemistry. About one student in every five will have experienced a major bout by the time he or she reaches adulthood, and women are more than twice as susceptible as men. Those with a biological predisposition for this may find themselves emotionally shattered by life events that leave others unscathed.
Lynch's problem surfaced as a child, when her father, a television executive, made a series of job moves to locations in three different states. At age nine, living in suburban Washington, D.C., she remembers waking up one morning before school and crying uncontrollably for hours.
By 14, Lynch had stopped eating. Her weight dropped to 79 pounds. Afraid she would die, her parents signed her into a psychiatric hospital in Memphis, Tenn., near the suburb where they had recently moved. Medication helped the daughter recover, and she eventually graduated fourth out of 425 seniors in her high-school class.
That wasn't the end of it, however. Lynch's depression returned while she was attending the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and again, after she moved to Manhattan in search of a stage career. She had been skipping her medication, in hopes of living "normally" without it.
At times, depression would descend as thick as fog, breaking Lynch's concentration and making it impossible to work, even as a waitress. She couldn't remember the answer when customers would ask, "Do you serve Pepsi or Coke?"
These days, back on medication, Lynch doesn't hesitate to speak out on her favorite cause, even when audiences find the subject a little embarrassing.
"I think she was very courageous," says Helen Pollack, a psychotherapist who marched with Lynch last spring in a Huntington rally that Pollack helped organize on behalf of the mentally ill. "People are afraid of people with mental illness and don't understand that there's a chance of recovery."
That's echoed by staffers at the Lake Success office of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, otherwise known as NAMI Queens/Nassau, who have been trying to arrange Lynch's appearances in local schools. Phones are not exactly ringing off the hook, though Lynch has managed to speak recently at Smithtown High School, as well as at Manhasset Middle School.
She's happy to show up - and she'll bring the tiara along.
next time, we remain,