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NAMI Finger Lakes

NAMI Finger Lakes This Week- December 17, 2021

At National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Finger Lakes affiliate, we provide advocacy, education and support for families of people living with mental health conditions. In our weekly e-news, we share events and resources of interest to our mental health community. You'll find more resources and information at our website namifingerlakes.org

This will be the last E-news in 2021

Beginning in January, you'll receive our E-news monthly rather than weekly.

All of us at NAMI Finger Lakes wish you a safe and peaceful winter holiday.

The NAMI Finger Lakes Crisis File contains valuable resources for families in search of help during a mental health crisis. You'll find resources for emergencies, housing, mental health treatment, services and more.

NAMI Finger Lakes Upcoming Support Groups

NAMI FL Family Support Groups are led by trained facilitators who have  lived experience with loved ones who live with mental health conditions. At our support groups, we share concerns, coping skills, and compassion in a supportive atmosphere.

NAMI FL virtual support groups currently meet on Zoom.
To register, please contact us via email [email protected] or call 607-288-2460 with your name, preferred phone number and email and the date of the meeting you wish to attend.

**PLEASE NOTE- You must register for each group you wish to attend. Please contact us as requested above 2 hours prior to the meeting you wish to attend so we do not miss your request.**

NAMI Support Groups are for people 18 and over who have a loved one living with a mental health condition. Groups meet for 1&1/2 hours.

Family Support Group:

  • Monday, December 20th at 1:30 PM- Virtual Family Support Group
  • Tuesday, January 4th at 7:00 PM- Virtual Family Support Group

Partner/Spouse Support Group: (Please note, December's Partner/Spouse group will meet one week earlier than usual due to the December holiday.)

  • Thursday, December 30th at 7:00 PMVirtual Partner/Spouse Group

**In Person Group- Please see the notice in this newsletter for an upcoming in-person outdoor group opportunity in January!

Click to view our Support Group Materials

If you need support now, please call the NAMI Finger Lakes Help Line at 607-273-2462. Our Help Line is answered by local NAMI family members who have experience with loved ones living with mental illness.

NAMI Finger Lakes Winter Wellness Walks

NAMI Finger Lakes 2021 Programs and Services Guide

With respect to the safety of our facilitators and participants, vaccination for in-person meetings is required.

Join NAMI FL for an in- person wellness walk. We'll support each other while enjoying the outdoors.

Friday, January 28th @ 1:00 PM

This group is for adults 18 and over

who have a loved one living with a mental health condition.

To register- email:

[email protected]

or call 607-288-2460

Please include your name, phone # and date of meeting you'd like to attend.

For Immediate Release- Tompkins County Mental Health Limits Intakes

On Wednesday, December 15, Tompkins County Mental Health announced they would be limiting intakes from December 23rd through the end of January. See the notice at this link for details on intake specifications:


This announcement has been troubling to families with loved ones who may be impacted by the limitations. People who reach out to NAMI FL often cite month's long waiting lists at other providers, such as Family & Children's Service, mentioned in the comments below. Mental Health Association has also registered their concerns about this change with NAMI FL, citing increased calls to their warm line, long wait times for care at local providers, and the challenges to providing peer support during a time of such critical need.

We reached out with our concerns and questions. Public Health Director, Frank Kruppa, responded and his answers are below.

1. Does the NYS Office of Mental Health have to approve changes like this?

Yes, OMH Regional Office is aware of and approved the temporary plan. We have also communicated the plan to Cayuga Medical Center so they are aware that patients discharged from the hospital will not be impacted by this action. We also met with Family and Children’s Service to establish protocols around triaging any increased referrals they receive that require more intensive services that our clinic provides. A member of our clinical leadership team will be reviewing referrals daily and triaging them based on need.

2. What can OMH do to help resolve this crisis in the short term? What will be done in the long term to ensure it doesn't happen again?

OMH has been awarded additional funding as a part of Federal COVID relief efforts to address the healthcare workforce crisis that NY State is facing. These funds are in the process of being dispersed to OMH licensed programs now. The actual amount of funding provided to each program however is limited and will take time to reach employees. The workforce shortage has been a significant problem for some time that has been exacerbated by COVID. The issues we are facing in Tompkins County are not unique to us and have been experienced by other providers in our community and across NY State. OMH is aware of these challenges. Many of these issues however are beyond their control such as low insurance reimbursement rates that impact salary and benefits of those working in the field at the same time higher education costs have significantly increased. Both these factors are barriers to people selecting a career in mental health.

3. What will be done about prescribing medication for someone who needs assessment if they are not already engaged with TCMH? Can they get medication to help them without an intake? Where else will people be prescribed critical medications for their well being if there are less than a handful of Psychiatrists in this county?

People can continue to be referred for treatment but initiating treatment will be delayed. Unless, through our triage process, it is determined that their needs are immediate or can only be addressed by Tompkins County Mental Health. This would include clients receiving injectables and other prescriptions that other local providers are unable to prescribe. Primary care offices are sometimes able to provide psychiatry and families may want to seek care there in the interim. There is a growing trend to expand into psychiatric treatment through primary care offices across NY State, and those services are available locally in some settings.

4. The notice states that if we need immediate assistance, we should call the Crisis Line. Upon calling the Crisis Line, we learned that they were not aware of the referral to them in this notice. Isn't it a better solution for someone who has the insight to seek help on their own to have an intake and be assessed for services, rather than allowing their lack of access upon self-initiated care to escalate to a crisis...for which you would respond with an intake (as mentioned in the notice)?

I believe we were asking people to call the crisis line if they are in a crisis now. This is not a change in practice. We were just reminding the public that crisis services are available. The Crisis hotline currently triages needs during a crisis and refers directly to our Mobile Crisis Team when necessary. They can assist with referral to other community supports when appropriate as well. We agree that it is better to receive services in a timely manner and regret that our workforce shortage is disrupting access at a critical time of the year.

5. Is the number of people coming to the clinic on their own for services so high that this impedes the clinic's ability to meet crisis follow up needs with intakes? If so, how are policymakers going to address our inability to provide care to people prior to escalating to the point of crisis going forward?

Yes, right now we are unable to provide treatment to new clients while also effectively attending to individuals who are in crisis and need immediate access to care. We are re-allocating our intake time to provide treatment to ongoing clients and address the needs of those who may need immediate support.

By limiting intakes to address the needs of individuals in crisis and collaborating with Family and Children’s Service to assist in treating new clients with lower intensity needs, we believe we can effectively support our community. We are already planning beyond this workforce shortage to meet client needs immediately upon re-opening and we are re-evaluating our plan weekly.

6. Should we tell families that this moratorium on intakes will be over when the notice states and is there a plan to ensure that happens? Or is the reality that it will be re-evaluated then and possibly continue?

While no one can predict the future, we have taken many steps to improve our recruitment and retention process including expanding our hiring to other master’s level clinicians (LMHC, LCAT and LMFT), becoming an HRSA approved loan forgiveness employer, establishing a flexible four-day work week as an option, and providing a half time work from home schedule that is approved by OMH and the County. We have also updated therapist schedules to create more flexibility to seek out input from colleagues and to have more breaks from this intense work in their day. We have provided information to staff on other ways to reduce burn out as well.

Unfortunately, we were unable to hire sooner to avert this crisis due to the civil service exam being announced by NY State for the psychiatric social worker position. We had to wait for the exam to be offered and a list of potential candidates created. This occurred at the same time we were beginning to have openings due to retirements and other departures from the clinic. We have already hired one individual and are in the process of interviewing this week for other positions. So, we expect to be fully staffed by the end of January. If possible, we will end limited intakes sooner.

7. If this will remain in place for a month and a half through the end of January, please provide language NAMI Finger Lakes representatives can share that accurately instructs struggling families and individuals what to do in the event they've expressed interest in seeking care to end their suffering prior to spiraling into crisis?

As previously stated, we have talked with Family and Children’s Service about the potential increase in referrals they may experience. We will be in close communication with them to ensure those with serious mental illness and who need immediate care and treatment are referred to the Tompkins County Mental Health Clinic. There are private practice settings in Ithaca as well including MindWell Center, Clinical Associates of the Southern Tier, and local clinicians in private practice who are publicly accessible on two websites:

Psychology Today found at website https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/new-york?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2vf1rujo9AIVbjizAB0ztQFZEAAYASAAEgJwsfD_BwE and

CareDash found at www.caredash.com

There are multiple virtual treatment options that are also available that people may want to explore that can also be found online. Finally, the Mental Health Association of Tompkins County can provide paraprofessional and peer support for those interested in receiving assistance in the interim. While none of these are perfect solutions, together these alternative options offer additional access to care

If your family needs support to manage feelings around this limitation of services and the confusion it creates, please reach out to the NAMI Finger Lakes Support Line at 607-273-2462. If you feel your loved one is in crisis and need to talk to someone about it, or if you or your loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service 800-273-8255 or 607-272-1616. If there is an emergency and you feel you or your loved one are in danger, call 9-1-1.

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Hi, {$firstname}.

Thank you for the important ways you connect with NAMI Finger Lakes. Because of your generous support, people find compassion, empathy and shared solutions in a supportive environment at NAMI FL. Together, we ensure no one is alone on their mental health journey as we work in the community to enhance individual and family well-being. 

To learn all the ways you make a difference in people's lives with your support of NAMI Finger Lakes, visit 2021 At NAMI Finger Lakes. For current programs, download, print and share the NAMI Finger Lakes Programs and Services Guide.

The conversation about mental health has changed across the nation and right here at home. Our mental health system is in crisis. Our community is overwhelmed by the challenges to providing compassionate care and crisis response. Families seek to better understand the experience of their loved ones living with mental health conditions while struggling to navigate treatment and supports.

Through it all, one thing remains the same- after 35 years, NAMI Finger Lakes continues to be a resource our community trusts to educate, advocate, listen and lead on mental health issues.  When families seek help at NAMI Finger Lakes, they know they are not alone. 

The demand for NAMI Finger Lakes free programs and support is growing. Our connections in the mental health community are expanding. Your help is needed now.


Please help us to continue our vital work in 2022 by making a tax deductible, year end gift TODAY. Consider joining our monthly support team with a recurring donation. You decide what works for your budget and spread the impact of your gift all through the year.


Donate with 

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Donations by mail may be made to:

NAMI Finger Lakes
PO Box 6544

Ithaca, NY 14851

Your year end gift is critical because it allows us to:

  • Expand programming and community engagement
  • Provide training and mentoring to volunteers and participants
  • Pay our small and dedicated staff

    Your support will make all the difference in the impact we can have in 2022 and beyond.

    We appreciate your generosity and hope you have a safe and peaceful winter season.


    With much gratitude,

    Beth McGee

    Executive Director
    NAMI Finger Lakes


    Spread the word about NAMI Finger Lakes!

    Forward this message to 5 friends and tell them why

    NAMI FL is important to you.

    Our programs and services are always free.


    NAMI Finger Lakes is your local affiliate of the

    National Alliance on Mental Illness.

    NAMI FL is a 501 (c) (3) Non Profit Organization.

    All NAMI affiliates are responsible for their own funding.

    Your donation is tax deductible.



    Share Your Story, Shape Our Future

    It's Legislative Advocacy time at NAMI and we have a lot of resources available to help you understand how NAMI advocates for mental health and how you can too.

    Each year, NAMI affiliate members across New York State meeting with State Legislators to let them know how mental health issues impact our lives and our families and ask them for their support on meaningful measures that can improve the lives of our loved ones living with mental health conditions. In early 2021, NAMI Finger Lakes advocates met with Assemblymember Dr. Anna Kelles and a representative for Senator Thomas O'Mara. We appreciate their time and thoughtful attention to our concerns at such a busy time a year.

    Visit the NAMI NYS Legislative Action webpage for many resources to get you started thinking about how your story can make a difference. And check out our mock advocacy meeting to see how easy it is to connect this way with the help of NAMI advocates. You can become a NAMI advocate too!


    If you would like to learn how sharing your story can shape our future locally with NAMI Finger Lakes, please reach out for more information to [email protected] or call 607-288-2460.


    Click to Visit the NAMI NYS Legislative Action Site


    NAMI NYS Mock Advocacy Meeting
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    Tompkins County is continuing to engage the public in a collaborative process to re-imagine public safety. To participate in this process, visit the website below and sign up for updates, attend online public comment events and share your ideas to make an impact on the process.


    NAMI seeks a mental health response for mental health crisis. In the event law enforcement must be called as a last resort, NAMI supports CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) training in Tompkins County and we participate in the CIT initiative currently under way. We're grateful for the officers and personnel who have participated in this important training this year to ensure appropriate response and safety for all involved in a crisis situation.


    We ask that friends of NAMI Finger Lakes engage in the Reimagining Public Safety process. There are many ways to contribute- share your experience-positive and  challenging- with the current crisis response system, listen and support others, engage your legislators, and encourage others to participate.

    Go To Reimagining Public Safety Website
    NAMI Finger Lakes 2021 Programs and Services Guide



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    The NAMI Finger Lakes 2021 Programs & Services Guide

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