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Seneca County Supervisors hear update on heroin crisis, mental health myths

During Tuesday’s Seneca County’s Mental Health Committee met to receive an update from Director of Community Services Seneca County Mental Health Department Scott LaVigne.

The update highlighted the struggles the county continues to experience with the opiate crisis, as well as some good news regarding a treatment facility in Tompkins County. He explained that OASAS, or the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, awarded $1 million in funding to support 25 new treatment beds to provide care for those with substance use disorders.

LaVigne said that the the facility in Trumansburg will offer a full spectrum of addiction treatment services to residents — including counseling, life-skills training and after-discharge support.

In other action from OASAS, LaVigne explained that earlier this month they announced a program, which would allow certified residential and inpatient providers to increase their current certified capacity by up to 10 percent on a temporary basis.

LaVigne said that the following standards would need to be met in order for a facility to qualify:

  • The last issued operating certificate for the program is for two or three years;
  • Space is available to meet the regulatory space standards;
  • The program is current with OASAS Client Data Reporting;
  • The program can manage the increase with existing staff and no additional State Aid;
  • Written notification has been provided to the Field Office Regional Coordinator.

In other action during the Mental Health Committee meeting, LaVigne provided background for members of the board, who raised concerns at their last meeting — regarding the placement of a mental health clinic and potential daycare facility.

The concerns were raised after the Seneca County Board of Supervisors authorized County Manager John Sheppard to begin the process of purchasing the former BonaDent facility.

The plan for that facility originally was to move the Health Department, along with other services — into that building. Their current structure is in need of significant and costly repairs to maintain.

LaVigne addressed the myth that those with mental health problems are “violent and unpredictable.” He explained that a vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else.

“Most people with mental illness are not violent as only 3-5 percent of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness,” LaVigne explained. He went on to point out that “People with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population.”

Watch all of the committee meetings in the video player above.

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