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James Plastiras- NYS OMH
james.plastiras@omh.ny.gov 

Edison Alban- NYS OASAS
edison.alban@oasas.ny.gov 

October 02, 2020

NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports and Office of Mental Health Announce Integration Listening Sessions

The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) and the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) today announced a series of public listening sessions on the potential creation of a new single integrated behavioral health agency.

Although OASAS and OMH have always collaborated well to serve New Yorkers, the creation of a unified behavioral health agency is being explored as a way to increase coordination of services and support people with both substance use disorders and mental illnesses. An integrated behavioral health agency could also help streamline service delivery and increase efficiency.

Stakeholders, including service recipients, healthcare providers and members of the public are invited to provide testimony that will be reviewed and utilized by the two agencies during future integration discussions. Four listening sessions have been scheduled for the following dates:

  • October 16th at 10:00 AM ET

Registration Link: https://web.telspan.com/register/oasas-omh/10-16-20

  • October 26th at 10:00 AM ET

Registration Link: https://web.telspan.com/register/oasas-omh/10-26-20

  • October 30th at 10:00 AM ET

Registration Link: https://web.telspan.com/register/oasas-omh/10-30-20

  • November 2nd at 1:00 PM ET 

Registration Link: https://web.telspan.com/register/oasas-omh/11-02-20

The sessions will be jointly moderated by OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez and OMH Commissioner Ann Sullivan. Participants can provide up to three minutes of verbal testimony directly to the Commissioners. The agencies will also accept written testimony. All testimony will be posted online after agency review. Any person planning to testify is requested to limit their testimony to only one of the sessions.

OMH and OASAS are exploring this option to determine if an organizational restructuring would better serve New Yorkers without placing any additional burden on providers or other stakeholders.

OMH and OASAS are hoping to hear feedback that includes, but is not limited to, the following questions:

  • The outcome of the last series of agency integration sessions, held in 2015, was that NYS wait to see the results of managed care and other system transformation implementation efforts, which were in process at that time.  How have these transformation efforts worked or not worked to integrate services and systems, and to support the treatment of people who access both addiction and mental health services in the following:
    1. Integrated treatment program development
    2. Recovery outcomes
    3. Service and program efficiencies
  • What are the organizational strengths, and/or growth opportunities among the two agencies?  
  • What could be the advantages and disadvantages of a unified behavioral health services agency?
  • How do people seeking treatment for addiction, mental health concerns, or both access services now? What would be the ideal?
  • How would agency integration impact delivery of or access to services, if at all? Should service delivery and access remain the same, or change, and in what ways?
  • Local Governmental Units already combine administrative oversight and operation of mental health and SUD services. What can be learned from this organizational structure and how it supports integrated service planning, delivery, and access?
  • Should some types of specialty or unique services/programs go unchanged?
  • Discuss prevention approaches between mental health and addictive disorders. Are they unique to each field? Where are their commonalities?
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This is a message from the New York State Office of Mental Health. 

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