“Now we know they can recover in the community with available resources.
“The Office of Mental Health has shown a commitment to move into community-based care.”
Changes to a more community-based program would also place New York state in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said, which requires states to provide the least-restrictive environment possible for people with special needs.
Rosenthal was actively involved in a similar project in 1993 when the state closed five mental-health hospitals and reinvested savings into community projects.
“It’s a very powerful approach,” he said of the process to transfer funds from state-run hospitals to community-based services.
“This puts the focus on the community, so we can build up the services within the community.”
A lot of resistance to closing state hospitals has come from a fear of losing jobs for communities, but the Office of Mental Health has stated that none will be lost from downsizing.
Employees of hospitals slated for closure will have the option to move into outpatient settings or to transfer into other state positions or other communities.
“It’s my understanding that cost savings are associated with the maintenance of those facilities and layoffs,” Cole said. “The point is that the state cannot afford to continue to operate the system as it’s currently configured.”
Rosenthal admitted that the potential of lost jobs has slowed efforts to downsize the mental-health system but noted that hospitals are “treatment programs, not jobs programs.”
However, Office of Mental Health Public Relations Director Benjamin Rosen emphasized the point that no layoffs will occur from the restructuring.
The Council for Community Behavioral Health is a statewide organization that supports mental-health and substance-abuse agencies. The council provides advocacy, resources and technical assistance to those who provide mental-health services.
The Association for Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services is a grassroots coalition that, its description says, has been working for 30 years to move the state’s mental-health services into a more modern, progressive recovery-based system.
Email Jeff Meyers:email@example.com