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State lawmakers poised to merge mental health and addiction services

May 19, 2022 5:30 am

Nick Reisman is reporting for State of Politics state lawmakers are pushing for the merger of the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, and the Office of Mental Health with the intention of better serving those facing both addiction and mental health crises. The state Senate on May 17, approved a bill that would merge both offices, creating the new Office of Addiction and Mental Health Services. “Not a week goes by that I don’t get a call from a family who has lost a loved one, who said their family member was in and out of treatment six, seven, eight, nine times, but because they never treated their underlying mental health disorder, they kept self-medicating until fentanyl caught up to them,” said state Sen. Peter Harckham. He said the measure will break down existing barriers in treatment programs, and follow the federal government’s recommendation for integrated care. Seventy percent of people who have a substance abuse disorder also have an underlying mental health disorder. That overlap rises to 90 percent when a person is in crisis. Half of those living with a mental illness also have an underlying substance abuse disorder. Harckham also wants to create a seven-person standing advisory committee on addiction and mental health programs for the purpose of crafting policy for prevention, care and treatment for people facing mental illness and addiction as well as a comprehensive plan for implementation. There has been a record rise in overdose deaths statewide over the last two years, coinciding with the COVID pandemic. Read the full story at nystateofpolitics [dot] com.

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