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

May 27, 2021

OMH Recognizes Jay Ulrich, Director of Community Services for St. Lawrence County for Service to the Community with Commissioner’s Community Care Awards

The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) is recognizing the work and commitment of Jay Ulrich, Director of Services for St. Lawrence County and director of the County Mental Health Clinic and naming him a recipient of the annual OMH Commissioner’s Community Care Awards for 2021.

These awards are given during May – Mental Health Awareness Month – to recognize the extraordinary achievements of individuals and organizations who have furthered the OMH mission and made a positive contribution to the mental health system in their communities.

OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan, said, “OMH is fortunate to have many great partners across the State who are helping us reshape state and local mental health systems by enhancing community-based services and improving the delivery of care and health outcomes for consumers.  Jay Ulrich has been great collaborator with OMH.  As County Director of Community Services as well as Director of the County Mental Health Clinic, Jay has worked tirelessly to recruit effective staff, study and realign priorities in services delivery, develop strong relationships with service providers in the county and ensure that all St. Lawrence residents have access to mental health services.”

Mr. Ulrich said, “In one capacity or another, I have worked collaboratively with the Office of Mental Health for the better part of 15 years. Over time, I have been privileged to develop endearing professional relationships with the staff at the Central Field Office in Syracuse. Those and other relationships make this award that much more meaningful and appreciated. Thank you, Commissioner Sullivan and your entire staff, for all the support and guidance I have received in my professional journey.”

Mr. Ulrich has been in the human services field for over 30 years. He started his career in Texas, where he worked with troubled youth and their families at an experiential wilderness program. He later worked at an unsecured juvenile facility outside of Dallas before spending four years as a Child Protection Services investigator for the County of Dallas; during which time he enrolled in a MSSW program at the University of Texas at Arlington.

After receiving his master’s degree he moved to New York where he spent his first 18 years here working for Citizen Advocates in both clinical and administrative roles. As St. Lawrence County Director of Community Services, he assisted the County’s Behavioral Health Clinics to find qualified staff and helped move the organization in a positive, more service-oriented direction. Jay also helped to reorganize the Community Services Board which was struggling at the time with consistent membership and the County’s need for additional behavioral health services.

Prior to the pandemic the administration team fostered and encouraged innovative ideas which began to lay the groundwork for the expansion of telemedicine into the St. Lawrence County Addiction Services Clinic and subsequently the St. Lawrence County Mental Health Clinic. As a result, the St. Lawrence Clinics were able to transition to remote services in two days when the pandemic struck. The continuity of care was seamless, and service recipients remained in the treatment and recovery process. Additionally, three clinicians were certified in trauma-based therapy which includes Accelerated Resolution Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, and Progressive Counting Therapy.

Moreover, the clinic no show rate decreased from over 20% to an average of 12-13% per month and the number of individuals served increased. By transitioning to 45-minute individual counseling sessions while incorporating collaborative documentation, which provides opportunity for those served to be more involved in the treatment process, the wait time was eliminated.

The Community Care Awards were created in 2019 to highlight OMH’s partners and stakeholders in local communities across the State that are helping to identify and eliminate gaps in services and are working to build strong community-based behavioral healthcare systems.  Input from these local partners helps OMH better understand regional needs and implement programs that will help people on the road to recovery from mental illness live their lives with a greater degree of independence and dignity.

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