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                                               FaceBook:  NAMI Orange Discussion Group


Upcoming Events/Outreaches

See details
of upcoming NAMI
meetings by clicking links below:

NAMI Connection
a peer-led support group for adults living with a mental illness held
every Friday

6-7:30 p.m.

no fee,
no registration

Thurs., Dec. 7
7 p.m.
NAMI Family Support Group

no fee
no registration

Mon., Dec. 11
No education mtg
in December

(There will be a holiday party for members, their families & invited guests. Emails will be sent with details)


Mon., Dec. 18
7 p.m.
NAMI Family Support Group

Conf. Room #7

No fee,
no registration


Thurs., Dec. 21
7 p.m.
MHA Family & Friends Together
Support Group


Wed., Dec. 27
6:30 p.m.
MHA Family & Friends Plus
Social Group

Please RSVP

NAMI Basics
free 6 week course
Call Dhanu 294-2749
to register now for NAMI Basics in the Spring (since class size is limited)


free 12 week course
Call Dhanu 294-2749
to register now for NAMI F2F in the Spring (since class size is limited)

 NAMI Presentations:

  -Ending the Silence

-In Our Own Voice

arranged by request


*For information on public policy and advocacy issues:


          NAMI-NYS 2017 Legislative Action Agenda
                        Supported Legislation

                   NAMI-NYS 2017 Action Agenda
                                 relating to Criminal Justice
                         as described in NAMI-NYS E-Newsletter

(Click on links below to follow progress of bill in the Assembly)

  • A4876: would raise the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 so that youth who are charged with a crime will be treated in an age appropriate manner
  • A2480: would alter the current practices in which defendants ages 16 through 18 are considered for Youthful Offender status. This would ensure that young people do not acquire a criminal record and a label that would stay with them throughout their lives..
  • A1907: would prohibit the placement of inmates under 18 in  solitary confinement
  • A1905A:  would ban solitary confinement for those under 21 years of age and those with physical or mental disabilities, passed the Assembly by a vote of 94 to 36. If this bill were to become law, it would bring New York State into compliance with United Nations' recommendations regarding the use of solitary confinement.

      Response to the 2016-17 Budget Agreement
                    (from NAMI-NYS Legislative Alert)

 Action Agenda Victory: New York to Enact Paid Family Leave!!!

NAMI-NYS and our grassroots advocates scored a major victory as Governor Cuomo and the Legislature agreed to enact a Paid Family Leave program that meets the standards we had been calling for: mainly, twelve-weeks of paid leave at two-thirds of a normal salary. This benefit will be eligible to family members in order for them to care for a loved one in a medical (including psychiatric) emergency or when they are dealing with a chronic illness (such as psychiatric disorders). Increasing family involvement in the recovery process has always been central to NAMI-NYS's mission. We have continually advocated for removing all barriers preventing family participation and establishing true recovery teams, consisting of someone living with a mental illness, their service providers and their family members.

When someone is experiencing a psychiatric emergency or hospitalization due to a chronic illness, that individual's family members should not have to worry about losing their jobs and salaries in order to be by their loved one's side.

This is a major victory for NAMI-NYS and our families, many of whom have had to sacrifice their jobs and financial security to serve as caregivers for a loved one with mental illness. During this advocacy campaign, many of you have shared your stories about how having a paid family leave would have helped you during a time of crisis. We are so grateful to you for projecting your advocacy voice on this issue. It is because of you that our state now leads the nation in ensuring that working families have access to this essential and long-overdue benefit.

Of the inclusion Governor Cuomo said, "This will affect the quality of life of millions of people in this state and it's basic, it's simple," Cuomo said. "We don't live at work. We live with families and we should have the capacity to be there when the families need you."

Click here to read NAMI-NYS's full statement of the inclusion. We thank the Governor and the Legislature for caring for caregivers. 

While we were thrilled to by this development, the reality is that positive features in the budget are still few and far between and we clearly have a lot of work to do. The mental health community saw some investments, but those fall why short of what NAMI-NYS has identified as what is needed to create a more mentally healthy New York State. We are glad that we have made some significant progress on criminal justice issues, but too many of our priorities were either underfunded or ignored. 

Here is how the key issues of our Advocacy Agenda  were addressed in the Executive Budget Proposal:

1-The Need for Safe and Affordable Housing for People With Mental Illness:

First and foremost, the budget still targets the closing of 200 in-patient psychiatric beds from the Office of Mental Health hospitals. Below, you will see that savings from this reduction will be used for community support services; however, there was no investment in supported housing for people with mental illness with wrap-around services.

While the Cuomo administration has committed to funding 20,000 new supportive housing beds over the next 15 years, much of this is old appropriated funds or bonded money that does not exist yet.

The bottom line is people living with a serious mental illness and those being removed from state psychiatric facilities need housing NOW. As we explained, the dedicated non-profit providers who offer supported housing with services simply do not have the capacity to meet the full needs of this population. The main factor contributing to this inability to house and support all of those living with serious mental illness is the lack of increases since 1990. This failure to keep up with the rates of inflation has forced these providers to operate at 43% of where they should be. NAMI-NYS and our advocacy partners ACLNYS, MHANYS and NYAPRS have identified that $92 million would be needed simply in order to get these programs operating at today's rates. Unfortunately, this much needed investment was not made.

Along with the lack of investments, housing providers now also have to face the daunting challenge of providing continuity of care with the new minimum wage rates. The increase of minimum wage has been a major concern for many direct service providers.

The budget contains a minuscule investment for OMH funded community based agencies, designed to get staff to the levels consistent with the budget agreement between the Governor and the Legislature: $900,000 increase for the last 3 months of the current fiscal year (January-March), $5 million for FY 2017-18 and $14.4 million for FY 2018-19.

While this investment appears to be positive, NAMI-NYS is still concerned that this will fall way short of what is necessary to keep and retain caring and qualified staff to help people receiving services, especially without the aforementioned funding necessary to bridge the gap caused by flat-funding.


2-Continued Reinvestment in Community Services

Another positive development is the budget calling for the full allocation of an annualized amount of $22 million in community reinvestment which represents a $110,000 per closed bed. This was the amount NAMI-NYS advocated for and this restores a possible $5.5 million cut.

The budget includes $30 million of funding for community based health care providers.

Again this is a small investment when you take into consideration how underfunded these valuable resources are. Remember as well that NAMI-NYS joined MHANYS and NYAPRS in calling for a $90 million investment for community services aside from the reinvestment in bed reductions.


3- Ensuring Access to Proper Medication

NAMI-NYS is grateful to our legislative leaders for once again restoring prescriber prevails for people receiving Medicaid in the budget.

As you will see below in the Take Action section we now must focus our attention on regulating the practice of fail first procedures by private insurance providers. (UPDATE: Governor has signed into law)

4-Mental Health Education in Schools

This issue was not a budget priority. However, NAMI-NYS will continue to push to create more mentally healthy schools by advocating for three bills that would address this glaring omission in education.
UPDATE: Mental Health in Schools- A3887B/S6046 was signed into law 9-30-16

5-Improving the Criminal Justice-Mental Illness Interface in New York State

The budget contained two positive inclusions which will improve the criminal justice-mental illness interface in New York State:

1-CIT Expansion-This is an area where our mental health chairs Senator Rob Ortt and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther have really delivered. Senator Ortt is funding $500,000 and Assemblywoman Gunther is funding $1 million to expand CIT initiatives. This brings the total investment in CIT expansion to $3.4 million in the last three years. This is an important initiative that will help generate positive outcomes when police are called to intervene in situations involving someone in a psychiatric crisis and will help protect the safety of both individuals living with mental illness and police officers.

2-Presumptive Medicaid Eligibility and Medicaid Restoration 30 Days Pre-Jail/Prison Discharge-This is something NAMI-NYS has been advocating on behalf of for quite some time. We are grateful to the leadership of Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, chair of the Corrections Committee, who has really fought for this. These efforts have led the administration to seek federal approval to restore Medicaid benefits 30 days before discharge from a correctional facility to allow for discharge planning designed to make easier reintegration for 'high needs individuals."


6-Support the New York State Office of Mental Health's Research Institutes: New York State Psychiatric Institute and Nathan Kline Institute

It appears that the funding levels for New York State Psychiatric Institute and Nathan Kline Institute have been sustained.


7-Support Veteran's Mental Health

Our legislative leaders were able to include an additional $2.78 million to expand the O'Dwyer Veterans Peer-to-Peer program.

In Summary:

This budget was a true "mixed bag" containing victories and disappointments. While we rejoice that New York has made the right move to care for caregivers by enacting paid family leave, the reality is the continued reduction of hospital beds coupled with the shortfalls in housing and community service funding makes the family role more important than ever. We envision many families having to use the paid family leave benefit to keep their loved ones from falling through the ever enlarging cracks in the mental health care system. Clearly there is much work that still needs to be done and we must be diligent for the remainder of this legislative session to help pass bills that will help address the omissions from the budget. Together, we can get laws passed that will ensure people receive the proper medication, help identify mental illness and intervene as early as possible by incorporating mental health in schools and make sure that people with the most serious forms of mental illness receive the support they need to advance their recovery.



Three of NAMI-NYS' legislative priorities have been signed into law by the governor.


1-Ensuring Access to Proper Medication- S-3419C/A-2834D    We need to make sure doctors have the final say about what medications are most appropriate when treating someone with a chronic illness (especially psychiatric disorders where medication are not interchangeable). All too often insurance providers refuse to cover a doctor's prescription and force their customers to fail first on a less expensive medication before allowing them to step up to the original prescription. This practice (Step Therapy) must be regulated.
Senate: Passed 06-14-16
Assembly: Passed 06-16-16
Governor signed into law January 3, 2017, effective January 1, 2017

2-Mental Health in Schools- A3887B/S6046 Early recognition and early intervention are keys to preventing the most serious symptoms caused by psychiatric disorders. Recognition and intervention needs to be taking place in schools. NAMI-NYS is supporting three bills that would improve mental health awareness in schools by incorporating mental health education into health education, requiring teachers to receive mental health awareness training and ensuring that schools have a social worker on staff.
Assembly: Passed 06-09-16
Senate: Passed 06-15-16
Governor signed into law 09/30/16

3-Paid Family Leave-see above



                 NAMI 2017 Legislative Priorities

                            as described on NAMI Web site

Invest in Mental Health and Innovation

  • Reject Medicaid caps or block grants that drive down innovation and force state program cuts, putting individuals with mental illness and families at risk
  • Support Medicaid expansion, with income-based eligibility, to provide coverage and a pathway to self-sufficiency for individuals with mental health conditions
  • Ensure insurance market reforms include mental health and substance use disorder coverage in every health plan and at the same level (parity) as other health conditions
  • Increase investment at NIH and NIMH in understanding, diagnosing and treating mental illness

Promote Early Intervention

Promote early intervention for serious mental illness through continued federal funding set aside in the Mental Health Block Grant to support research-based First Episode Psychosis programs

Improve Integration of Care

  • Improve integration of health and mental health care through policies and financing that:
    • Support the Collaborative Care Model, integrating behavioral health expertise into primary care
    • Expand Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics that integrate primary care into behavioral health care clinics

Support Caregivers, Military Service Members and Veterans

  • Support our nation’s caregivers by extending existing national caregiver support programs to include family caregivers of people with mental illness
  • Increase capacity for mental health care and promote continuity of care for military service members and veterans with mental health conditions

End The Criminalization of Mental Illness

  • Reduce the high cost of jailing people with mental illness by investing in policies and funding to ensure that every community has:
    • 24/7 behavioral health crisis response teams
    • Subacute and respite care
    • Assertive Community Treatment and Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (ACT/FACT) teams

“These priorities will guide our efforts as we look to keep what works and improve where needed to make it better for millions of Americans who live with mental illness and their families,” Giliberti said.

About NAMI

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. | |


*Excerpts from NAMI-NYS Action Alert


Mental Health Reform Has Been Signed into Law

After more than three years of advocating on behalf of mental health reform at the local, state and federal level, NAMI's hard-fought battle is over. Mental health reform is finally a reality.

The Senate passed H.R. 34, the 21st Century Cures Act, with a 94-5 vote on Dec. 7. This landmark victory came after the House passed the same bill 392-26 on Nov. 30.

"This is a new era of healthcare, and the next generation of hope for Americans that really transcends boundaries," said Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), author of H.R. 2646. "To all the families who brought their stories out of the shadows, today is a day of joy."

The mental health benefits of H.R. 34 span far and wide. The bill incorporates measures and funding to help Americans with mental illness get the care they need.

H.R. 34 includes provisions from the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016 (H.R. 2646) and from S. 2680, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016. It also contains language from S. 2002, the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act of 2015 and from S. 993, the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, promoting de-escalation training and diverting people with mental illness to treatment instead of incarceration.

"I'd seen up close the heartbreak and frustration that families suffered trying to find care for a loved one - care that seemed impossible to find and even harder to pay for. That's why I worked with Republicans and Democrats on the Mental Health Reform Act," said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), co-author of the bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act of 2016.
"Without appropriate treatment options, prisons, jails and emergency rooms become the de facto mental health care facility," said Murphy's co-author Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA). "The 21st Century Cures Act provides incentives to build an adequate and skilled mental health workforce to expand access to mental health care providing quick and effective diagnosis and treatment."

The Cures bill mirrors several of NAMI's top priorities, including:

  • Raising the stature of mental health and substance use disorder services at the federal level by creating an Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use.
  • Authorizing grants for CIT programs and de-escalation training for law enforcement and other first responders.
  • Clarifying that the federal Medicaid statute permits same-day billing for the provision of mental health and primary care services.
  • Requiring new federal guidance on compliance with mental health and substance use disorder parity requirements.

NAMI compiled an analysis of the mental health provisions in H.R. 34. This legislation will help promote a patient-centered mental health care system in America. Now we are one step closer to NAMI's vision of an America where fewer people with mental illness end up on the streets, out of school or in jail.



The House passed HR 203,The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act.  This legislation requires annual assessment of mental health care and suicide prevention programs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and implements a pilot loan forgiveness program for psychiatrists that agree to serve in the VA.  The bill passed unanimously – demonstrating the strong bipartisan support for addressing gaps in mental health and suicide prevention programs at the VA.

The Senate passed the bill as well and the President signed it in to law on 02/12/15.





Gov. Cuomo Signs Important Bill Into Law for
Mental Illness Anti-Stigma Fund

The Mental Illness Anti-Stigma Fund will be funded by a tax check-off box which will appear on New York State income tax forms creating a continuous source of funding for educational programs that will lead to a better understanding of mental illness by all. 

Governor Cuomo Signs S.633 to
Provide Mental Health Training to Prison Staff

NAMI-NYS is delighted to inform you that on December 12, Governor Andrew Cuomo, signed Senate bill S633, which will mandate training for all prison staff to help them recognize and best address mental health issues in inmates.


 Gov. Cuomo Signs Legislation
to Support Family Caregivers

The bill (S.676B/A.1323B), which was signed October 26, 2015 requires hospitals to record the name, phone number and address of the caregiver in the patient's medical record. The hospital must then notify the caregiver of the patient's upcoming discharge at least 24 hours in advance and offer instruction in all after-care tasks, which will be designated in the patient's discharge plan.

It is NAMI-AMICO's understanding that this law pertains to patients (including patients with mental health issues), but only in general hospitals as is specified in the law.    See more details                                                                  



Governor Cuomo Signs into Law the Reintegration of People Living With a Mental Illness


NAMI-NYS urged the passage of NYS Bill S7818/A10071 "The Prisoners Mental Health Discharge and Planning Bill” : An act to amend the correction law and the mental hygiene law, in relation to treatment plans for certain inmates who are receiving mental health services at or prior to the time of their anticipated release date. 


The bill passed the legislature and was sent to the Governor's office for him to sign it into law by Monday, December 29, 2014 and he has done so!


The law will provide mental health discharge planning for inmates who will be released on community supervision and to authorize regional community supervision directors to initiate involuntary commitment proceedings under the mental hygiene law.


The law makes sure prisoners with mental illness who are being released are given a discharge plan, an appointment with a community program, and enough medications to last until the appointment. It also adds parole officials to the list of people who can refer someone with a mental illness to a hospital for evaluation. This will help reduce reincarceration.

NAMI-NYS Anylasis of 2015-2016 NYS Budget Agreement


Highlights Include:

Housing Investments

Expansion of CIT

Restoration of Prescriber Prevails

Criminal Justice Initiatives

Investment in Community Services

On Sunday, March 29th, Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders Assemblyman Carl Heastie and Senators Dean Skelos and Jeffery Klein reached an agreement for the FY 2015-16 budget. State legislators are expected to approve the budget deal before the April 1st deadline.


NAMI-NYS is extremely encouraged about many aspects of the budget agreement. Highlights include an investment in housing, several criminal justice initiatives including CIT expansion and the restoration of precribers prevails. This is one of the strongest budgets for mental health services in many years.