Need for those dealing with substance abuse and mental health disorders to be integrated


ALBANY, NY – The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for services for those dealing with both substance use and mental health disorders.

NewsChannel 34’s Corina Cappabianca has more on why some say services for both types of disorders should be integrated.

The National Institute of Mental Health says almost half of people who have a substance use disorder will experience a mental health disorder at the same time.

But treatment for both disorders is often dealt with separately.

While a bill to create an Office of Addiction and Mental Health Services passed through the Senate this session, it didn’t make it for a vote in the Assembly.

((Stephanie Marquesano, The Harris Project Founder)) The creation of the office of mental health addiction and wellness is critical to provide the framework for any comprehensive and co-occurring capable service delivery model.

Currently there’s an Office of Addiction Services and Supports, and an Office of Mental Health that operate as separate agencies.

Advocates say the current system is failing those with co-occurring diagnoses.

((Dr. William Mullane, Westchester Jewish Community Services)) We’re focused on two sets of regulations, separate paperwork, and billing requirements, and we struggle to recruit staff who believe that they have the skillset necessary to treat both conditions.

Assemblymember Aileen Gunther says there are especially challenges for those Upstate or in more rural areas.

((Aileen Gunther, NYS Assemblymember)) To get an inpatient stay, to detox, very very difficult. And then the aftercare if you don’t have transportation, if you don’t have money, you’re not going to stick to the program.

The Office of Mental Health says some strides have been made in expanding telehealth capacity to help with this.

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