The NYS Bar Association has given final approval on a ground-breaking report investigating the behavioral health system in New York State. The report, put together by the Task Force on Mental Health and Trauma Informed Representation, called for a fully-funded, and seamless system of care for those who may have mental health, substance misuse or intellectual or developmental disabilities. The Task Force, which is co-chaired by Department of Community Mental Health Deputy Commissioner Joseph A. Glazer and NYSBA Immediate Past-President Sherry Levin Wallach, received approval by the Bar Association’s House of Delegates in Cooperstown.

Westchester County Executive Latimer said: “Once again, the people and vision of Westchester County lead the way when it comes to better serving others with mental health needs. I am proud of those from our community, and my own administration, who are willing to do the hard work not just for our County, but for people everywhere.”

Glazer said: “We all have our own perceptions of leadership. To me, leadership is the ability to turn vision into action. Thanks to the support of County Executive Latimer, who leads the way every day, and the leadership of Sherry Levin Wallach in driving this Task Force forward, Westchester County and the NYS Bar Association are showing true leadership for those with serious behavioral health needs.”

Levin Wallach said: “It is my hope that this groundbreaking report provide the impetus for the much needed reform of New York's mental health system. I am grateful to the New York State Bar Associations’ Task Force for its outstanding work and dedication to serving our bar and communities under the leadership of its Co-Chairs Joe Glazer and Sheila Shea."

The report, which runs more than 120 pages, was developed and drafted by 25 attorneys who are the foremost experts in the field from across New York State, addressing numerous areas of care for people with behavioral health needs. Topics included diversion of people with mental health needs from the criminal justice system, increasing awareness and treatment of co-occurring disorders, increased development and utilization of restorative justice, and building a seamless system of services and housing for people living with behavioral health needs.

With so many areas of legal practice impacted by the representation of people with these needs, the report also calls for trauma specific training for judges, lawyers and even law students.

Levin Wallach created the Task Force as one of her first acts as the new president a year ago, and quickly named Glazer as a co-chair. Sheila Shea, Esq., of Mental Hygiene Legal Services of the 3rd Department (Albany area) served as the other co-chair.

A link to the full report can be found here: final-report-Task-Force-on-Mental-Health-and-Trauma-Informed-Representation-June-2023.pdf (