The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. Coalition Briefs
An Evolving Update on Behavioral Health in New York

The Coaliton Opens Registration for the 2017 Annual Conference:Turning Challenges Into Opportunities - March 30, 2017

The Coalition is excited to announce that registration is now open for the upcoming annual conference. To register please click here.

The event will take place on March 30, 2017 from 8:30am - 4:30pm. We have a new location: Congregation Rodeph Sholom at 7 W 83rd Street, New York, NY 10024

We welcome panel and session presentation proposals. Please stay tuned for registration and program event details. We look forward to seeing you there!



The Opioid Epidemic: New Data, Challenges and Solutions

New York City (NYC) is in the midst of a major public health crisis brought on by the devastating consequences of substance abuse.  In an effort to review some of the latest New York City specific data on the opioid epidemic and on the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s initiatives, The Coalition’s Substance Use Committee recently hosted a presentation by Dr. Hillary Kunins, Assistant Commissioner of the NYC DOHMH’s Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use – Prevention, Care and Treatment.  The presentation titled: “THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC: NEW DATA, CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS”, began with detail on the crisis itself and how it is effecting NYC neighborhoods.  Dr. Kunins’ pointed out that drug poisoning is the leading cause of injury death among those aged 25-34 in NYC, and among those aged 25-64 nationally (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014).

In a summary of the mortality statistics, she noted a 158% increase in fatal heroin-involved overdoses since 2010, with 4 out of 5 (80%) fatal overdoses involving an opioid.  (Li W, Huynh M, Lee E, 2014) Also highlighted was the fentanyl problem, which, since July 1st of this year, over half (51%) of overdoses involved fentanyl (NYCDOHMH, 2016). Contrary to the perception that overdoses occur on the street, it was pointed out that, in actuality, 71% of fatal overdoses occur in a person’s own home or another’s home (NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner & NYCDOHMH 2000-2015).

The presentation described new and ongoing public health approaches to reversing the opioid overdose epidemic, including the widespread distribution of naloxone along with free training on how to administer it. 

The efforts Dr. Kunins outlined are in line with the NYS Combat Heroin and Opioid Task recommendations on expanding programs to increase awareness on opioids, medication assisted treatment, and naloxone.  Dr. Kunins’ presentation materials can be obtained at The Coalition’s website at

Another important recommendation of the Heroin and Opioid Task Force is the expansion of regional coalitions and partnerships where stakeholders can identify resources and challenges, assess current efforts, and increase cross-sector collaboration on the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.  The Coalition’s Substance Use Committee, which meets monthly, is actively engaged in such an effort, and invites your feedback and involvement. 

For more information and resources, contact Cheryl Bobe at



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “10 Leading Causes of Injury Deaths by Age Group Highlighting Unintentional Injury Deaths, United States – 2014.“National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), National Vital Statistics System. 2014. 

Li W, Huynh M, Lee E, Lasner-Frater L, Castro A, Kelley D, Kennedy J, Maduro G, Sebek K, Sun Y, Van Wye G. Summary of Vital Statistics, 2014.

New York, NY: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Office of Vital Statistics, 2016

Source: New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner & New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene 2000-2015


First NYC Networking Event for Adult Behavioral Health HCBS Providers, Lead Health Homes, Care Management Agencies, and Managed Care Organizations was a Success

The Coalition for Behavioral Health, Inc., the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the New York State Office of Mental Health and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services hosted a networking opportunity for adult behavioral health HCBS providers, Care Management Agencies (CMAs), lead Health Homes and , Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) on January 23, 2017 at the EmblemHealth headquarters in lower Manhattan. More than 230 people attended the event. Care Coordinators had the opportunity to meet the 36 HCBS providers agencies who reserved tables and shared information about their services. In total 53 organizations providing HCBS were in attendance along with 39 Care Management Agencies. MCO and lead Health Home representatives were also in attendance. In the words of one attendee: “The networking allowed us to initiate new contact[s] with CMA[s], discuss referrals to other HCBS providers with various designations, meet phone contacts in person and just great comradery.”

The next event is scheduled to take place at Brooklyn Borough Hall on February 9th from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Click here to register, book your vendor table, and get more information.

The goal of these networking events is for adult BH HCBS providers to introduce CMAs, lead Health Homes and MCOs to their agency and educate attendees about the services offered to their participants and the community. It will also provide care managers with information needed to help adult BH HCBS eligible individuals make informed choices about where to receive services.


The Coalition Comments on the DSRIP Independent Assessor Mid-Point Assessment Report

The Mid-Point Assessment Report by the Independent Assessor for DSRIP was an opportunity for The Coalition to voice the concerns of the membership on what was a failure of many of the Preferred Provider Systems (PPS) to engage and contract with community based providers.  Jason Helgerson, the Medicaid Director of the New York State Department of Health made an important and innovative step forward when he realized how his vision to maximize individual and population health and drive down the costs of costly and preventable hospitalizations ( The Triple Aim) would not work unless he addressed the social determinants of health.  And that requires cross-sector collaboration.

The findings in the mid-term report highlighted that only four of the twenty-five PPS had satisfactorily included community based providers. The remainder were cited as deficient. These findings echoed the frustration and disappointment of our members, who mostly felt underutilized. Doug Berman, VP for Policy and Jason Lippman, Executive Vice President, interviewed several members of the coalition, to learn more about the barriers they encountered.

First acknowledging the providers deep investment in the success of DSRIP because of the positive impact it could have on the lives and well-being of their clients, as well as the commendable achievements to date, their comments focused on several key factors:

  • The cultural differences between medical services and mental health and social services providers marginalized the community providers and created an uneven playing field.
  • Early decisions regarding the objectives, structure and measurement criteria of the various projects, before community team members were engaged, shifted the focus to clinical solutions.
  • Participating in the PPS requires an upfront investment of time and energy which is uncompensated and unrecoverable. Smaller community based agencies serving fewer, but yet the most vulnerable populations are unable to invest up front resources and are disadvantaged.
  • Providers were unable to assess the cultural fit, the appropriateness of the projects and the value of various PPS before contracting. Many of the respondents have had to adjust expectations and change their partnerships.
  • Everyone in the sector is concerned about sustainability in the face of value based payments.

To read the comments, please click here.


Coalition Members Testify for LGBTQ Services

By: Diana Christian
Chief Policy Advisor
Community Healthcare Network

Community Health Care Network was pleased to join our Coalition partners testifying before the New York City Council hearings on the difficulties faced by LGBTQ accessing behavioral health services. We were joined on the podium by Doug Berman, The Coalition’s VP for Policy presenting with Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, and Amida Care, a Medicaid managed care organization which serves people living with HIV and homeless people and the Hetrick Martin Institute. Housing Works and the LGBTQ Center also presented testimony.

The hearing focused on Int. 1225 which would require the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to develop a plan for serving the mental health needs of LGBTQ individuals, and Res. 0130, and Res. 0613, which ban and would penalize any professional intervening in an individual’s sexual orientation, including so called curative and/or conversation therapy.

DOHMH Executive Deputy Commissioner Dr. Gary Belkin’s testimony focused on ThriveNYC, the $850 million dollar mental health program spearheaded by First Lady Chirlane McCray. Dr. Belkin noted that ThriveNYC is intended to impact a wide swath of New Yorkers and would include the LGBTQ community. Councilmembers Richie Torres and Daniel Drumm, however, contended that the disparities encountered by the LQBTQ community would continue to plague the community without targeted initiatives and funding. A discussion on what was meant by  “cultural competency” and “LGBTQ affirming” services in the health provider context gave proof to the arguments of councilmembers Torres and Drumm regarding the need for targeted funding and services.

CHN has been proudly serving the LGBTQ community for over a decade. We have dedicated programs that focus on increasing access and engagement to care, the S.H.I.N.E. project, which assists uninsured LGBTQ persons in receiving HIV and STI testing, accessing PrEP and PEP, and also provides one-on-one counseling and health education services. The needs of the LGBTQ community, and others, are why CHN has dedicated ourselves to substantially growing our behavioral health practice.

This past fall, CHN expanded its’ offerings with two major initiatives: the first New York State nurse practitioner (NP) psychiatric fellowship program, and the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program for suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone). Given the national shortage of psychiatrists, the NP psychiatric fellowship program is critical to meeting service needs. Similarly, the MAT program enables nurse care managers and social workers to meet with patients and refer them to PCPs for suboxone treatment.

As of last summer, CHN has psychiatrists on site at each center at least two days a week who are able to provide psychiatric evaluations, medication management, and weekly or bi-weekly therapy.

In the coming year, CHN will be implementing adolescent psychiatric services for youth ages 12 through 18, which will include internal referrals from primary care, therapy and medication management, as well as having a licensed child/pediatric psychiatrist on staff and training our nurse practitioner fellows specific to child and pediatric mental health needs.  

To read the testimony, please click here.


Department of Health and Human Services Selects NYS for CCBHC Demonstration

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services selected New York and seven other states for participation in a two-year Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program. This demonstration hopes to integrate behavioral health with physical health care, increase consistent use of evidence-based practices, and improve access to high quality care for people with mental and substance use disorders.

New York community behavioral health clinics will be reimbursed through Medicaid for behavioral health treatment, services, and supports to Medicaid-eligible beneficiaries using an approved prospective payment system. Populations to be served are adults with serious mental illness, children with serious emotional disturbance, and those with long term and serious substance use disorders, as well as others.

The demonstration programs will be evaluated based on data from 21 quality measures collected through sources such as program records, Medicaid claims, managed care encounter data, and clinic cost reports. Qualitative data also will be obtained from interviews with state officials and clinic staff.

The goals of the demonstration align with the New York’s Medicaid Redesign and move to value based payments.

Authorized under Section 223 of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, this demonstration program is a combined effort by several HHS agencies including SAMHSA, CMS, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation.

We are pleased to acknowledge our member agencies who were selected as CCBHC sites:


Join the Mental Health Service Corps!

By: Myla Harrison
Assistant Commissioner
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Join a ground-breaking initiative to close gaps in behavioral health services and to expand the reach of services and support best practices across NYC’s diverse communities. The Mental Health Service Corps (MHSC) assigns clinicians to mental health, substance use and primary care settings. The MHSC is entering its second year and seeking behavioral health practices to participate. 

MHSC currently has over 100 fully-funded masters and doctoral-level mental health clinicians and physicians working in primary care and behavioral health sites across the city. MHSC is recruiting to enroll 50 additional behavioral health care sites. These sites include New York State OMH licensed Article 28 and 31 mental health clinics, New York State OASAS licensed Article 32 substance use clinics, Personalized Recovery Oriented Services programs, Partial Hospital programs and Assertive Community Treatment teams.

Sites that are enrolled in MHSC will be assigned master’s level clinicians who are committed to working in high-need communities that have barriers to mental health services, and will be equipped to screen, assess, and treat patients. The MHSC behavioral health clinicians (BHCs) are selected to meet the needs of the behavioral health sites and communities based on their experience, interest and ability to speak the languages and understand the cultural needs specific to the patient population. To encourage community engagement where the practices are located, the BHCs are also expected to engage other community-based organizations to aide in health promotion, prevention, and reducing stigma surrounding mental health. MHSC behavioral health clinicians commit to three years of service, and the clinical hours they provide will count towards their clinical licensure.

Apply Now  to enroll your site in MHSC, and join the movement to change mental health care in New York City. Please complete the application by February 15, 2017.

Site selection for matching with MHSC BHCs will begin April 1, 2017. We plan to notify sites of MHSC member placement by May 1, 2017.

For further questions please email Sabina Saleh at


The Coalition Invites Members to Submit Briefs Articles & Water Cooler Items

As a major source of communication to Coalition members, elected and government officials, as well as the greater behavioral health community, Briefs offers a great opportunity to get your message out.

We welcome submissions from our members that highlight such topics as innovative services they are providing, policy positions they support, experiences implementing new systems and practices, etc.

Please submit your proposed articles to We look forward to receiving your input!



Coalition Member-Only Events

We encourage all members to participate in sharing information and working with us.

Government Relations Committee
Date: Monday, January 30, 2017
Time: 3:00pm – 5:00pm
Location: 123 William Street, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10038
For more information please contact Doug Berman at

Substance Use Committee
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Time: 3:00pm – 5:00pm
Location: 123 William Street, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10038
For more information please contact Cheryl Bobe at

Membership Meeting
Date: Thursday, February 23, 2017
Time: 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Location: 123 William Street, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10038
For more information please contact Jason Lippman at


The Professional Learning Center - Open to All

Identification and Treatment of Co-occurring Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders in Integrated Care
Date: Friday, February 17, 2017
Time: 9:00pm – 4:00pm
Location: 123 William Street, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10038
More info »
Register now »

The Center for Rehabilitation & Recovery- Open to All

Introduction to Benefits Management
Friday, January 27, 2017
Time: 1:00pm – 4:30pm
Location: 123 William Street, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10038
More info »
Register now »

Mental Health First Aid
**This is a two day training; participants must be able to commit to attending both sessions.  
Thursday & Friday, February 23 & 24, 2017
Time: 9:30am – 4:30pm for both days
Location: 123 William Street, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10038
More info »
Register now »

Trauma Informed Care: Improving Recovery and Outcomes
Date: Thursday, March 16, 2017
Time: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Location: 123 William Street, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10038
More info »
Register now »

Comprehensive Benefits Management Training  
**This is a three day training; participants must be able to commit to attending all sessions.
Date: Tuesday - Thursday, March 21 - 23, 2017
Time: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Location: 123 William Street, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10038
More info »
Register now »


Other Noteworthy Events

Occasionally The Coalition will announce other noteworthy events for our community

NYC BHIT Program Milestone Documentation Webinar (hosted by DOHMH)

This webinar will inform eligible Organizations on how to complete the required documentation in order to receive BHIT funding support

: Monday, February 6, 2017
2:00pm - 3:30pm
Click here for more details


water cooler
Around the Water Cooler

Housing Works, a well-known HIV/AIDS organization, is currently seeking final state approval to open a four-story health center in midtown. The center will provide clients with primary care in addition to substance use and mental health treatment services. After receiving $3.4 million from a Capital Restructuring Financing grant, the agency began leasing a 7,300 square foot building on West 48th street last July. According to the certificate-of-need application, the center will take approximately nine months to build.


On December 20th, Bobby Watts, Executive Director of Care for the Homeless announced that he will become the CEO of the National Care for the Homeless Council in Nashville, TN. After dedicating many years in New York City and New York State, Bobby will have the opportunity to serve the homeless community on a national level. We congratulate Bobby on his transition and hope that we will cross paths again in the near future.





On December 19th, Odyssey House was featured in the New York Times for raising awareness on the opioid epidemic. President & CEO, Dr. Peter Provet explains how the majority of families who are affected by the opioid epidemic reside in rural and suburban communities, where access to treatment resources may not be as plentiful as in urban environments. Going forward, Peter hopes that our new President will be open to learning that treatment, not punishment, is the most cost effective method to managing the opioid epidemic for cities, suburban, and rural areas in the United States.

To read the full article, please click here.




On December 16th, Staten Island Mental Health Society, Inc. presented an award to Matt Carter, Esq., Associate for O’Melveny & Myers, LLP at the Dr. Richard M. Silberstein Memorial Lecture and Award Ceremony. Mr. Carter was honored for his generosity and support with helping Staten Island children and families. The Silberstein memorial lecture was led by Andrea Smyth, Executive Director of the NYS Coalition for Children’s Behavioral Health Services.


In a recent press release, Service Program for Older People (SPOP) announced the opening of four new offices whose function will be to provide the elderly with additional service sights. With the support of the New York City Department for the Aging through the Thrive NYC initiative, SPOP will have the opportunity to offer services at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, Project FIND/Hamilton House, Educational Allice Manny Cantor Center, and New York Foundation for Senior Citizens Mott Street Senior Center.



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