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James Plastiras Director of Public Information New York State Office of Mental Health 518-474-6540 james.plastiras@omh.ny.gov

May 10, 2023

OMH Announces Major Milestone for Mobile Access Program

Program connects people in crisis to mental-health clinicians for assessment and services

The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) announced a major milestone for the agency’s emergency Mobile Access Program (MAP) which recently conducted its 1,000th counseling session for individuals in emotional distress.

MAP is a statewide, police-based, rapid-access telehealth program that connects people in crisis to mental-health clinicians for assessment, safety planning, and connection to services and resources. At the request of police, clinicians conduct remote face-to-face evaluations using an internet-enabled tablet.

OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “We’ve been tracking the data during the past three years, and we’re seeing that nearly 80 percent of people in crisis remain at the scene after a MAP session is conducted. This is because mental health staff conduct an evaluation in real-time to remotely plan for appropriate care that reduces unnecessary transportation to a hospital by law enforcement and links individuals to community-based care for follow-up.  We also encourage use of 988 for a mental health crisis, which will connect you directly to a crisis counselor on the phone.”

MAP is coordinated by the Institute for Police, Mental Health, and Community Collaboration, which works closely with OMH to develop Crisis Intervention Team programs to help local crisis response systems become less reliant on law enforcement when responding to people in emotional distress and to help police be more prepared when called to respond.  Don Kamin, PhD, is the director of the Institute, and also works with law enforcement, behavioral health system representatives, and other community partners to address the needs of individuals with mental illness and their family members through system reform, improved collaboration, and training initiatives.

Institute Director Don Kamin said, “MAP is a great example of harnessing technology for positive system transformation. Law enforcement officers are not the optimal response to individuals experiencing mental health-related crises and by providing them with iPads they are able to quickly contact a mental health clinician to conduct remote, face-to-face evaluations to better help individuals in emotional distress.”

The program has grown from a small pilot in 2019 to being active in 13 counties and 28 law-enforcement agencies with plans for continued expansion. It provides police departments and mental health agencies with iPads, Zoom accounts, and training.

The 1,000th call came at the request of the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office. A clinician from Rochester Regional’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) at Clifton Springs Hospital was the clinician on the call. “We’ve trained our entire office on how to use the iPads and have found the program to be very beneficial,” said Sgt. Mark Taylor of the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office, who supervises the program for his department. “By facilitating evaluations for 911 callers in the comfort of their living room, we can offer much better customer service and people are very appreciative of that.”

“We’ve had great success in partnering with law enforcement to deliver this program,” added Cassandra Cowley, Program Manager of the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program in Clifton Springs, who oversees the mental health clinicians who participate in MAP in Ontario, Yates, and Seneca counties. “People can remain in the community the vast majority of the time and we can offer follow-up support and begin creating linkages for them. People are so happy to be able to receive these supports in their home rather than going through the often-traumatizing process of being brought to the emergency room.”



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