Telephone:  845-956-NAMI (6264)                                                                               Toll-free:   1-866-906-NAMI (6264)
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      *Contact us if you wish to be added to our email database to receive meeting announcements

 3 digit Crisis Hotline for Suicide Prevention

Would you be interested in becoming a NAMI Orange board member?
If so, contact Dhanu at 845-294-2749
or email
to learn about the application process

Upcoming Events/Outreaches

See details
of upcoming NAMI
meetings and courses by clicking links below:



On-going  Meetings:

NAMI Connection
a peer-led support group for adults living with a
mental illness.
No fee, no registeration
PLEASE NOTE: these Orange County meetings are on a temporary hold. We will post here when the weekly meetings will resume.

Check out NAMI Connection in Sullivan County

For ongoing Family Support Group Meetings, click here

There are no Education Meetings in Jan. or Feb

Sunday, Jan. 26 meeting regarding topic WRAP
has been cancelled

Youth Mental Health First Aid Course
Thurs., Feb. 27
8 a.m.-4 p.m.
ORMC's Community Health Education Center
Registration required, RSVP
1-888-321-6762 by Mon., Feb 24

2020 NYS Legislative Advocacy Day
Tues., March 3
Albany, NY

Mon., March 9
NAMI Orange Education Meeting

6:15-8 p.m.

"Hope Not     Handcuffs"

2020 NAMI National Convention
July 15-18
Atlanta, Georgia

NAMI Presentations:

Both programs are arranged by request

Click on links below for details

  -Ending the Silence
is an in-school presentation designed to teach middle and high school students about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, how to recognize the early warning signs and the importance of acknowledging those warning signs. Through this classroom presentation, students get to see the reality of living with a mental health condition.
*3 types of presentations are available: for students, for staff and also for families

-In Our Own Voice
trained presenters who are in recovery from mental illness share compelling personal testimonies about their experiences of living with and dealing with the challenges posed by mental illness.



*For information on public policy and advocacy issues:

Current NAMI-NYS Advocacy Alert: 
Click link to learn how to send an email letter to Governor Cuomo in support of mental health housing. You can send multiple letters, so if you have already send one, please take a moment to send another one. We need to generate as many letters as possible in order to demonstrate how important this issue is.

NAMI-NYS Legislation Day 2020

     NAMI-NYS 2020 Legislation Action Agenda

Advance Suicide Prevention be Passing Nicole's Law S.6629

Access to Appropriate Services and Medication

Support Community Services, Caregivers and the Mental Health Workforce

Mental Health Housing With Wraparound Support Services

Improve the Criminal Justice–Mental Illness Interface

Expand Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran’s Mental Health Program

A 3 digit Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Line - 988

** September was
Suicide Prevention Month
** Tell Congress to help prevent suicide

Too many lives are cut short by suicide. The national suicide crisis is affecting
our friends, our families, and our communities. And tragically, suicide is the 2nd
leading cause of death among people ages 10-34.

The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, H.R. 4194, is a bipartisan bill that
would create an easy-to-remember 3-digit number as the nationwide hotline for
suicide prevention and mental health crisis. This number will make it easier for
people in the U.S. experiencing a crisis to receive immediate and appropriate mental
health support and referral.

We need your help to make this number a reality.

Contact your member of Congress. Ask them to cosponsor H.R. 4194, the National
Suicide Hotline Designation Act. Click on the following link:
and complete your email information

NAMI-NYS official statement on the final budget: 
excerpt from NAMI-NYS newsletter

The primary concern for NAMI-NYS has always been ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to appropriate psychiatric care and medications designed to advance their individual recovery.

NAMI-NYS is concerned that too many New Yorkers struggle to locate these life improving treatments and having them covered by their health insurance providers. Lack of insurance parity and the use of prescriber prevails have long been the main culprits in installing barriers to appropriate person-centered mental health services. NAMI-NYS applauds Governor Cuomo and the Legislature for delivering a fiscal-year 2019-2020 budget that addresses two of the leading factors that have made accessing person-centered psychiatric treatment more difficult than it should be for too many New Yorkers.

We are grateful that New York State will be enacting arguably the strongest behavioral health parity laws in the country and that the budget once again includes prescriber prevails language. Combined, these two initiatives will shorten the time people will have to wait to access the treatments identified to advance their specific recovery.

NAMI-NYS is also pleased to see investments in Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) programs. This valuable program is the leading factor in generating the most positive outcomes possible when police and first responders interact with people with mental illness as well as diverting people away from the correctional system. NAMI-NYS is proud that New York State continues to be a national leader in this program.

We are also encouraged to see support for the Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer-to-Peer program, as addressing the mental health of our brave veterans is a paramount concern for NAMI-NYS.

While NAMI-NYS celebrates these advancements we are also deeply concerned by what is not funded in the budget.

It is impossible to deliver mental health services without a fully-funded and sustainable caring and qualified workforce. This is why we are extremely disappointed that the budget failed to include a COLA for the non-profit human services workforce. The lack of a COLA will continue to make hiring and retaining staff to deliver the type of continuity of care we want to see very challenging. This puts the recovery of the one in four New Yorkers living with a mental illness in jeopardy.

Housing programs with full wrap-around mental health services are a leading driver of recovery. NAMI-NYS has continually stood as part of the Bring it Home campaign calling for New York to address the decay in the system caused by a quarter-century of flat-funding. Unfortunately, the $10 million included the budget falls way short of what is needed to return the crucial mental health housing system to appropriate operating level.

We still have a lot of work to do for the remainder of the legislative session, and your voice will be needed to build on the successful aspects of the budget.

We need to take the next steps in addressing insurance issues after the parity funding by regulating the deceptive practice of Non-Medical Switching by passing A.2969/S.2849  UPDATE: Passed by the Assembly June 17 and passed by the Senate June 19, 2019.

While CIT programs certainly help divert people with mental illness from the correctional system, we know that the system is still overly populated by people living with a psychiatric disorder, which is why we need to pass the HALT bill to regulate solitary confinement. 

We can also increase access to the most effective treatments by passing A3830 S04848 which would allow pharmacies to administer long-acting injectable medications. UPDATE: On June 19, passed in the Senate, returned to Assembly and forwarded to higher education.


excerpts from NAMI-NYS ACTION ALERT:
Tell Your Legislators to #Act4MentalHealth

Send a Pre-Written Letter to Legislative Leaders Urging Them to Support the 2019 NAMI-NYS Action Agenda

Click here to send a pre-written letter to key NYS legislative leaders urging them to support the 2019 NAMI-NYS Action Agenda.

Visit Your Legislators in their District Offices

We encourage you to visit your legislators in their district offices. NAMI-NYS will be happy to send you packets for you with our talking points and resources to tell your story and ones to provide your legislators. To obtain packets or for help scheduling district meetings please email

Advocacy Resources

For those of you who want to make district visits, we want you to feel as comfortable as possible when talking to your legislators.

In our efforts to continually provide our members with resources to help them project their advocacy voice, NAMI-NYS has filmed a three part video series designed to provide you with the information and skills to communicate the importance of our 2019 Action Agenda to our elected officials.

Part I-Detailing the issues comprising the 2019 NAMI-NYS Action Agenda.

Click here to watch.

Part II-How to effectively tell your story as an advocacy tool.

Click here to watch.

Part III-How to make the most impactful legislative meetings.

Click here to watch.

Click here to view the 2019 NAMI-NYS Advocacy Guide.
This comprehensive guide is designed to familiarize you with our Action Agenda, explain the importance of telling your story as an advocacy tool and how to most effectively tell your story, tips on making impactful legislative visits, information on the large freshman class of NYS legislators and how to communicate our message through both traditional and social media. Click on the links below to view sections of the guide:

Call Senators Schumer and Gillibrand
Ask Them to Sign Onto Letter Urging CMS to Maintain the Six Protected Classes Policy in Medicare Part D.

Medicare Part D provides drug coverage for 43 million seniors and adults with disabilities, including many people with mental health conditions.

Currently, Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans must include "all or substantially all" of the medications in six protected classes, which include antidepressants and antipsychotics. These six protected classes were created to ensure people with conditions treated by these medications are not discriminated against, as well as to ensure access to a range of options that meet individual needs.

But there is a proposal that could hurt these protections. Late last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a number of changes to how Medicare pays for drugs. NAMI is concerned by a proposal that would allow plans to use prior authorization and step therapy more widely in the six protected classes, even for people who are stable on their current medication.

NAMI opposed this rule change in comments submitted last month. Over 7,000 comments were submitted from across the country, including by many of you. NAMI also worked with a bipartisan group of Representatives on a letter to CMS requesting that they not make this rule change.

Recently, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who oversees CMS, said, "I was very disturbed to hear that patients switching among insurance plans, like switching among Medicare Advantage plans, can often be required to start over again on a step therapy regimen. [...] This is not just potentially injurious to their health; it's also penny-wise and pound-foolish."

We couldn't agree more. Every voice is critical to make sure protections for the six protected classes are not weakened - and we need your help. U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are encouraging their Senate colleagues to sign onto a letter to the Administration asking CMS to maintain the six protected classes policy in Medicare Part D.

Please Call:
Senator Schumer at (202) 224-6542 and
Senator Gillibrand at (202) 224-4451

Use this script:
"On behalf of NAMI-New York State, I urge you to sign-on to Senator Rubio and Senator Sinema's letter requesting CMS to maintain the six protected classes policy in Medicare Part D.

NAMI-New York State is very concerned that this proposed rule would have significant negative consequences for Medicare beneficiaries living with a mental illness and their ability to access medications. The six protected classes policy is a key part of the success of Medicare Part D because it establishes critical protections for vulnerable people on Medicare, like those living with mental illness.

Access to antidepressants and antipsychotics are critically important for people with mental health conditions to maintain wellness. Please sign-on to Senator Rubio and Senator Sinema's letter. Thank you."

      Humane Alternative to Long-Term Solitary Confinement Act

     New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement


                NAMI-NYS 2019 Advocacy Guide

                        #BringItHomeNYS twitter

                         Bring It Home Website

BIH is group of community-based supportive housing providers, mental health advocates, faith leaders, & consumers & their families, demanding adequate funding.

Bring It Home NAMI-NYSNAMI-NYS Bring It Home

Visit  to discover more facts and to learn how you can support the Bring It Home campaign which calls for increased financial support for New York's Mental Health Housing Programs.

NYS License Plate (photo credit: News10 ABC)

Specialty License Plates
for Mental Health Awareness
Click above link to NYS Department of Motor Vehicle

The governor has signed into law Bill #A.06216B sponsored by Aileen Gunther which creates a specialty license plate stating, "Healthy Mind, Healthy NY"

                    Veterans Deserve Mental Health Care

                               excerpts from NAMI of Greater Des Moines

When Veterans transition out of service into civilian life, they can experience many challenges.

To help, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) recently introduced a bipartisan bill, S.785, The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act.

This bill will help Veterans access better care—care they deserve and need. NAMI worked with a bipartisan group of legislators on key parts of the bill, including provisions to:
  - Provide veterans with a full year of VA health and mental health care  after transitioning from the Armed Forces
  - Increase access to online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  -Create a Precision Medicine for Veterans Initiative to identify brain and mental health biomarkers
  -Provide $10 million to increase availability of and locations for VA telehealth care

S. 785 celebrates the legacy of retired Navy SEAL Commander John Scott Hannon, a member of NAMI Montana, who died by suicide last year after fighting a courageous battle with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and bipolar disorder.

CDR Hannon embodied the strength of veterans with mental health conditions. This bill honors his passion and efforts to improve veterans’ mental health care.

You can help. Click here ( to ask our U.S. Senators for their support of S. 785.

            How New Medicare Rule Proposals
               Affect People with Mental Illness

        excerpts from NAMI Advocacy and Public Policy Team

In November, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule<> that would impact Medicare coverage of prescription drugs. In January, 2019, we will distribute template comments specific to our areas of concern, but in the meantime, NAMI's partner organizations may reach out your NAMI State Organization or Affiliate to sign on to letters or encourage action regarding this proposed change or others.

To help determine if signing on or engaging is appropriate, you'll find more information on these changes and the areas that impact people with mental illness below.

Background on Medicare and Mental Illness
Medicare, unlike Medicaid, is entirely funded by the federal government. It provides health coverage to older Americans and to adults with disabilities. Many older adults on Medicare have mental health conditions. In addition, there are millions of younger adults who are on Medicare because they have a psychiatric disability.

Medicare is made up of "parts" that cover different benefits:

* Part A: Hospital care, short-term skilled nursing, home health services, hospice
* Part B: Health care professionals, outpatient and preventive care, some medical equipment and supplies
* Part C: Medicare Advantage-an alternative coverage option that covers both part A and B benefits, and often includes part D prescription benefits
Part D: Prescription drugs

What are the "6 protected classes" in Medicare Part D?
Medicare Part D provides drug coverage for 43 million seniors and adults with disabilities. Today, Part D plans must cover "all or substantially all" drugs in six classes, including:

1. Anticonvulsants (often prescribed for epilepsy)
2. Antidepressants
3. Antineoplastics (prescribed for cancer)
4. Antipsychotics
5. Antiretrovirals (prescribed for HIV/AIDS)
6. Immunosuppressants (prescribed for transplants)

These six protected classes were created to ensure people with conditions treated by these medications are not discriminated against, as well as to ensure access to a range of options that meet individual needs.

What is CMS proposing to change?
CMS is proposing a number of changes to how Medicare pays for drugs. Of these proposals, NAMI is concerned that the following will negatively affect people with mental illness:

Medicare Advantage (Part C) changes

* Step therapy for Part B drugs
NAMI has a long-standing policy of opposing step therapy for mental health medications. The proposed rule would put into regulation what CMS already allowed in an Aug. 7, 2018 memo-allowing Medicare Advantage plans to implement step therapy for drugs covered under Part B.

What drugs are covered under Part B? Part B covers drugs that have to be administered intravenously, such as chemotherapy. One long-acting injectable (LAI) antipsychotic is also covered by Part B, while newer LAIs are covered under Part D.

Part D changes

* Prior authorization and step therapy in the six protected classes

CMS is proposing changes that would allow plans to use prior authorization and step therapy more widely in the six protected classes, even for people who are stable on their current medication. NAMI opposes this rule change, which would cause dangerous disruptions in treatment for millions of Medicare enrollees with mental illness.

* Restrictions on new formulations of drugs

The new rule would allow Part D plans to not cover new formulations of existing drugs, such as the long-acting injectable form of an antipsychotic or a new extended release formula. NAMI opposes this rule change, which would limit important innovations that make medications easier to take, better tolerated, or better tailored to a specific condition.

* Price increases above inflation

The new rule would allow plans, starting in January 2020, to exclude coverage of drugs, including "protected class" antipsychotics and antidepressants, if their wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) rose more quickly than general, not medical, inflation. General inflation generally rises more slowly than inflation for medical goods or services. This change could result in people not having access to needed medications and experience harmful disruption in their treatment.

What you can do
Comment on the proposed rule: Your voices on this issue matter. NAMI will distribute template comments specific to these areas of concern and instructions for submitting comments in early January which you can use to let CMS know about our concerns regarding the proposed rule.

Sign on to coalition letters: You are encouraged to sign on to coalition letters on this rule, provided the letters appropriately represent NAMI's position(s). As always, if you are not sure or would like advice, feel free to reach out to Hannah Wesolowski, director of advocacy, at

Note: Separately, CMS is asking for comments on options for changing payment for Part B drugs to more closely align with international prices. If you're contacted about this issue, please reach out to Hannah Wesolowski, director of advocacy, at

Mental Illness

learn about federal bills that pertain to mental illness 

We Need  To Do More
Than Just Talk About Mental lllness

opinion article in "The Hill" (December 11, 2017)
by Dr. Herbert Pardes

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.