A few weeks ago, SAE representatives attended the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) Behavioral Health System Testimony, a forum that offers community based providers and stakeholders a chance to speak to the City about behavioral health issues within the NYC system. The purpose of these sessions, which occur regularly in each of the boroughs, is to provide DOHMH with suggestions and input from a wide range of community stakeholders about improving the NYC behavioral health system.
At this forum, attendees testified on a wide variety of issues, which included the following:
· Fair wages for Peers—The suggestion was made that DOHMH should integrate into their contracts a minimum wage for peer advocates/peer specialists working in the behavioral health field;
· Stabilizing the City’s Community Based Services—In today’s climate of ever changing regulations and rates, whether or not community based providers will be able to sustain operations is uncertain. DSRIP money is going to hospital systems with no indication of how these resources will filter to CBOs. The suggestion was made that DOHMH assist NYC-based providers by providing money for their ongoing operations to ensure their stability despite the uncertainty of today’s climate.
· Screening/Identification of Veterans—The importance of NYC-based CBOs asking the question to all clients about whether they have served during their intake process was reinforced, given that over 200,000 veterans are currently living in the city. Once someone is identified as a veteran, there are many additional services that (s)he can access, so asking about previous service during the screening process is important.
· Emergency Response Services for School-based Crises—One attendee spoke about the tendency for schools to overuse EMS when children/youth are exhibiting disruptive behavioral issues in school. The speaker asked that DOHMH work to support additional mental health services within school systems for both the wellbeing of the children, as well as the enormous cost savings that will ultimately result (one ambulance ride is $2,000). In addition, it was suggested that schools should disclose data related to the number of EMS calls made each year, so that those with the highest numbers can be targeted for training.
For more information about upcoming DOHMH Community Forums, visit the DOHMH website here.