The Chemung County Department of Mental Hygiene doesn’t provide any direct services, but provides oversight of various contracted services with nearly 20 local agencies to provide approximately 75 mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disability programs across the community.
After experiencing a teenage suicide contagion, in 2004 the department created a local task force to address the issue going forward. Since that time he has been responsible for the oversite of a multitude of suicide prevention efforts including; a newly created Suicide Prevention Coordinator position, development of the www.walkamile.net website, the provision of QPR, safeTALK, and or ASIST to over 3,000 individuals, an annual conference for teaching approximately 300 individuals in self-regulation techniques referred to as Breath-Body-Mind, a suicide survivor support group, the design a program in the Elmira City School District that resulted in a SAMHSA Science to Service award, bringing national speakers to the community, assisting in the development of coalitions in neighboring counties in both New York State and Pennsylvania, annual prevention walk independent of AFSP that has grown to over 2500 attendees and raised over $450,000 in the last 13 years. In addition, the Director of Community Services was an active member tof the Governor’s Suicide Prevention task Force formed in 2018 to address a standardized framework for addressing this public health issue across New York State.
In the pursuit of technological advances, the department has established the Chemung County Network of Care and AROUNJA websites as community resources for persons in need of direct and/or ancillary services; obtained a common database collection system for local planning purposes with the mental retardation and developmental disability licensed agencies; and procured a common electronic record keeping system four local agencies.
Over the past six years the department has championed a local team working with world renowned leaders in Breath~Body~Mind teachings, Dr.’s Richard Brown Patricia Gerbarg, in bringing their approach of self-regulation to the region.
Most recently under the Director of Community Service’s leadership the department has formed the Substance Abuse Regional Alliance (SARA) to address the heroin and opioid epidemic. As a part of these efforts they have help to coordinate a multitude of grassroots efforts across the community to deliver access to appropriate and timely information form an educational standpoint, and they have been a leader in the state for tracking overdoses and the administration of Narcan by working directly with first responders instead of waiting for information to come back from the state several months after the fact.