Government Institution

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The New York State Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors is a statewide membership organization that was statutorily incorporated under Article 41 of the Mental Hygiene Law in 1976.


The Conference is comprised of the Directors of Community Services (DCS)/Mental Health Commissioners for 57 counties and the City of New York. Also known as the Local Governmental Unit (LGU), the DCS has a statutory authority and responsibility for oversight and cross-system management of the local mental hygiene system to meet the needs of individuals and families affected by mental illness, substance use disorder and/or developmental disability in their communities. 


The LGUs develop and oversee comprehensive, integrated and cost-effective systems of care locally while working in partnership with the NYS mental hygiene agencies, comprised of the Office of Mental Health (OMH), the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). While the three state disability agencies are separate at the state level, they intersect at the local level. 


In addition, the LGU, in accordance with Mental Hygiene Law, engages in annual local services planning, quality improvement and programmatic and fiscal oversight activities required to meet the diverse needs of individuals and families.  Many LGUs directly operate mental health and/or chemical dependency clinics, especially in rural areas of the state where oftentimes the county-operated clinic is the only provider of services in the county. The LGU also contracts with a broad range of service providers and maintains partnerships with a diverse group to connect the pieces of the local system including the following: 

  • Mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability service providers
  • State operated psychiatric centers (PCs) and addiction treatment centers (ATCs)            
  • Social Service (DSS) and Public Health Departments
  • Housing and shelter services  
  • Criminal Justice (prisons, jails, probation/parole, police, sheriffs, family and criminal courts)
  • Hospitals (Emergency Departments and CPEPs) and primary care and providers

On behalf of  the LGUs, the Conference advances and communicates the LGUs expertise and voice at the state level working with state agencies, the Legislature, the Governor’s office, and the Division of the Budget on state policy and funding initiatives.