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MONDAY, MAY 13, 2024

CLMHD Releases Comprehensive Harm Reduction Position Statement

The NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors (The Conference) is proud to announce the publication of "Advancing Wellness in New York Counties: A Comprehensive Harm Reduction Position Statement." This position statement represents a commitment by the Directors of Community Services (DCSs) to promote and support local initiatives and interventions aimed at addressing the multifaceted challenges of substance use and risky behaviors across the state's diverse counties. The overarching goal is to provide support to individuals in their specific situations, ensuring that interventions are customized to suit their individual circumstances.

DCSs, otherwise known as the County Mental Health Department Directors or Commissioners, are statutorily responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of behavioral health treatment services through active coordination with state and local stakeholders. In this role, DCSs have long recognized the importance of creating person-centered, and equitable harm reduction policies at both the state and local levels of government to tailor interventions to address the needs of individuals and families in each unique community. When done correctly, communities will be able to address social determinants of health, social justice needs, and racial inequities that have long plagued individuals suffering from substance use disorder; appropriately adjusting how care is delivered within our healthcare systems.

DCSs from across the state came together to focus on the needs and challenges locally, and at the direction of the Conference’s Harm Reduction Subcommittee, developed this guidance to serve as a blueprint for providers and local governments for the advancement of harm reduction policies that seek to emphasize collaboration, empathy, and those proactive measures that help foster healthier and more resilient communities.

"As Co-chair of the Conference’s Addiction Services & Recovery Committee, I am proud to present our newly released Harm Reduction Position Statement. This pivotal document underscores the collective efforts of DCSs in advocating for compassionate, community-driven responses to the challenges posed by substance use,” stated Suzanne Lavigne, MHA, CASAC-M.

"Many of our DCSs in rural counties run direct clinic services and have seen first-hand how policy decisions that do not consider the intricacies of our rural communities can significantly negatively impact the well-being of their residents. CLMHD’s Harm Reduction Position Statement underscores our commitment to supporting these localized efforts and promoting inclusive solutions tailored to the unique needs of our communities," emphasized Margaret Morse, LMSW, Co-chair of the Conference’s Addiction Services & Recovery Committee.

“Advocating for fair and inclusive policies that consider the broader social context of harm reduction interventions in each local jurisdiction is the primary goal of the Conference’s harm reduction position, and the expertise and vision of the DCSs provides a unique local perspective necessary to successfully promote the health and social care of individuals and their families in the communities they serve,” said Courtney David, CLMHD Executive Director.

By prioritizing the reduction of harm and promoting individual and person?centered care, the harm reduction principles included in this document will contribute to the overall wellbeing and sustained recovery of individuals facing substance use challenges.