The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. Coalition Briefs
An Evolving Semi-Monthly Update on Community Mental Health in New York
June 26, 2006

Coalition 2006 Benefit A Rousing Success

Over two hundred people attended the Coalition’s 22nd Annual Mental Health Awards on June 8th and enjoyed a festive evening of camaraderie, good food, and stirring award presentations and acceptance speeches by our honorees.  The Coalition honored OMH Commissioner Sharon Carpinello, New York Times bestselling author Bebe Moore Campbell and our very own Alan Siskind.

In addition to wide representation from the community mental health sector, the benefit drew several elected officials and representatives from city and State government.  Assembly Member James Brennan (D-Brooklyn), who chaired the Assembly’s Mental Health Committee for five years, was in attendance, as was our current Chair Assembly Member Peter Rivera (D-Bronx).  The Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Social Services, Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan), also dropped by to extend her best wishes to the Coalition.

We were also fortunate to be joined by the Chair of the City Council’s Mental Health Committee, Oliver Koppell, with whom we have worked very closely since his appointment to the Committee in January.

In addition, the event drew officials from the City’s Division of Mental Hygiene, Office of Management and Budget and Department of Homeless Services, as well as from the State Office of Mental Health.  The Coalition is grateful that so many people, including officials at different levels of government, chose to attend our event.  We look forward to working with all of our colleagues in the year ahead.

City Budget Update

The New York City Council is finalizing its list of budget restorations, enhancements and new initiatives to present to Mayor Michael Bloomberg as part of the Fiscal 2007 City budget.  By law, the City must present a balanced budget by the end of June.  With only a few days left in the current fiscal year, the Council is meeting day and night to determine which initiatives to include in the final budget negotiations.

The Coalition is calling for the restoration of funding to a range of mental hygiene programs left unprotected in the Mayor’s Fiscal 2007 Executive Budget.  The Coalition is also urging the Council to include enhancement dollars for two initiatives funded last year: the Geriatric Mental Health Initiative and the Children Under Five Mental Health Initiative.

As the budget process winds down by the end of the week, the Coalition will provide an update regarding the status of these budget items.


Coalition Supports the Children’s Mental Health Act of 2006 (A.9649B/S.6672B)

Assemblyman Rivera and Senator Morahan have proposed legislation that will provide comprehensive, coordinated mental health assessment, early intervention and treatment services for children up to age 18. The bill also incorporates social and emotional development standards into elementary and secondary schools.

We are deeply appreciative of Assemblyman Rivera and Senator Morahan’s recognition of the fragmented and inadequate children’s mental health system. A. 9649B (Rivera) and S.6672B (Morahan) are important steps towards improving mental health services for children. 


Assembly & Senate Agree on Mental Health Parity Bill

After years of disagreement between the Assembly and the Senate, both houses agreed late last week on a bill that would create parity for persons seeking mental health treatment in New York State.  Because the bill was finalized at the conclusion of the legislative session, it was not voted on by either house.  A vote will be scheduled for sometime later this summer, and will then go before the Governor for his signature.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Tom Libous (R-Endicott) and Assembly Member Paul Tonko (D-Schenectady), would require insurance companies to:

  • Include 30 inpatient days and 20 outpatient visits for all mental illnesses;
  • Fully cover biological based mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, major depression, and others;
  • Fully cover children under the age of 18 with serious emotional disturbances, including any psychiatric condition that would put a child in danger of being removed from the home;

The legislation unfortunately does not provide parity for persons in need of substance abuse treatment.

A major sticking point between the Senate and the Assembly had to do with the impact of the legislation on small businesses, or those with 50 or fewer employees.  The legislature agreed to hold such companies harmless from any premium increases that may arise.

Finally, the bill will sunset at the end of 2009.  The New York State Insurance Department and the State Office of Mental Health will conduct a study to determine the impact of the bill.

The Coalition thanks Senator Libous and Assembly Member Tonko, as well as Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) for their collective roles in ushering this important piece of legislation through their respective houses.

While we view this bill as a first step, insofar as the coverage for addiction disorders was excluded, the Coalition is nonetheless gratified that both houses of legislature could find common ground after so many years. 


The Transition into Adulthood for Troubled Youth

     Introduction to TIP - July 6 & 7, 2006

Addressing the needs of transitional age youth, The Coalition's Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery is launching a new and innovative educational initiative for providers, beginning with an introduction to the “TIP” (Transition to Independence Process) System with Dr. Hewitt Rusty Clark on July 6th and 7th.  Dr. Clark’s work is recognized as an evidence-based model that has been demonstrated to improve post-secondary outcomes in young people. 

Additional in-depth training for select agencies will follow in the fall. All trainings will seek to help providers coordinate clinical, educational and vocational services and draw upon the resources of family and community supports.

The transition for young adults with mental health concerns into adulthood and its subsequent challenges can be mired with complications, missed opportunities and disappointments.  Serious emotional disturbance (SED) can include diagnoses like schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder leading to psychiatric hospitalization.  Other long range complications can arise including incarceration, substance abuse and suicide.  It is all too common for young people to get lost within the child and adult mental health systems and be misdiagnosed within the schools, stunting vocational development and creating employment-related problems later in life. In New York City this situation is augmented by systems that are numerous yet fragmented for this age group, whose numbers are estimated at 46,000 in 2003.  A young adult struggling to maintain emotional stability can too easily fall between the cracks presenting a need for service coordination and expert skills. 

The training that the Center is offering addresses the need for an understanding of these complex issues, special skills and coordination of care.  For more information on this timely initiative please call Alysia Pascaris at 212-742-1600, ext. 20 and visit our website.


Changes at SAMHSA

Charles Curie, the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) since November 2001, has offered his resignation effective August 5.  Mr. Curie brought 20 years of experience in behavioral healthcare to his job at SAMHSA, and was instrumental in helping to promote recovery-based initiatives and the use of evidence-based practices.

Under Mr. Curie’s leadership, SAMHSA has funded a range of initiatives, including programs for at-risk youth, the homeless, and jail-diversion for mental health consumers.


Hail and Farewell


The Coalition is bidding farewell to Michele Fontaine who began working at the Center in November 2003. Over the past two and a half years, Michele has been responsible for disseminating project information pertaining to mental health, rehabilitation and recovery.  Included has been her oversight of the website and development and distribution of the Center's electronic circular RECOVER e-works. In addition, she has assisted with special projects, contributed to the Coalition's Briefs and delivered training on the psychiatric rehabilitation approach. Michele brought to her tenure at the Coalition over 20 years of experience working in the NYC mental health community as a program director and direct service provider. She will greatly be missed.

We are pleased to extend a hearty welcome to Marc Kutner, who has joined the staff at the Center as the Rehabilitation and Recovery Program Associate.  Marc brings experience from both the profit and not-for-profit sectors.  He holds a Master's degree in Social Work from Columbia and a Master's degree in Public Administration from NYU.  He can be reached at 212-742-1600 ext. 204.


Coalition Job Boards

Coalition Members advertise staff positions for free on The Coalition’s Job Board!

Job #  Job Title
1833 Social Worker, ACT Team- Part Time
1822 Psychiatric Social Worker
1821 Case Manager
1812 Psychiatric Registered Nurse - Part Time
1809 Bilingual Psychiatric Social Worker

We also have a job board for psychiatrists only.  APA members regularly look at this listing for potential hourly or per diem positions.


Classified Ad - Sublet Available

The Mental Health Association of New York City has approximately 800 sq. feet of separate office space to sub-lease at 50 Broadway.  The suite is located in a great building, on a high floor, and has a river view.  It is in move-in condition, and has a reception area, two offices, and a conference area that can seat 4 to 6 people comfortably.  This space has not been used since built-out, and the paint and carpet are brand new. We offer a flexible lease term at $3,000 per month, not including electricity.  Contact Harry Epstein at 212-614-6303 or