New York State Department of Mental Hygiene

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Department of Mental Hygiene
New York State Office of Mental Health Police patch.jpg
OMH Police patch
Department overview
Formed 1927
Jurisdiction New York
Child agencies
Key document

The New York State Department of Mental Hygiene is the department of the New York state government that is composed of several autonomous offices: the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (OASAS), the Office of Mental Health (OMH), and the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).[1] Its regulations are compiled in title 14 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations.


The department was founded in 1926 as part of a restructuring of the New York state government, and was given responsibility for people diagnosed with mental retardation, mental illness or epilepsy.[2] Dr. Frederick W. Parsons was appointed the first department Commissioner in January, 1927.[3] He was replaced by Dr. William J. Tiffany in 1937, who then resigned in 1943 over an investigation into handling of an outbreak of amoebic dysentery at Creedmoor State Hospital.[4] By 1950, the department had grown into the largest agency of the New York state government, with more than 24,000 employees and an operating cost exceeding a third of the state budget.[5]

The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (OASAS) was transferred from the Department of Health to the Department of Mental Hygiene in 1962.[6] In 1978, the Department of Mental Hygiene was reorganized into the autonomous OASAS, Office of Mental Health (OMH), and the Office of the Mental Retarded and the Developmentally Disabled (OMRDD). These three offices are headed up by a Commissioner who also serves on a council that performs inter-office coordination.[2] The OMRDD is now the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).


  • 1927–1937, Frederick W. Parsons[3]
  • 1937–1943, William J. Tiffany[4]
  • 1943–1950, Frederick MacCurdy[7]
  • 1950–1954, Newton Bigelow[8]
  • 1955–1964, Paul H. Hoch[9]
  • 1966–1974, Alan D. Miller[10]
  • 1975–?, Lawrence C. Kolb[11]
  • 1978–1982, James A. Prevost[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mental Hygiene Law § 5.01. "There shall continue to be in the state government a department of mental hygiene. Within the department there shall be the following autonomous offices: (1) office of mental health; (2) office for people with developmental disabilities; (3) office of alcoholism and substance abuse."
  2. ^ a b Ward, Robert B. (2006). New York State government. Reference, Information and Interdisciplinary Subjects Series (2nd ed.). SUNY Press. pp. 328–329. ISBN 1-930912-16-1. 
  3. ^ a b "Frederick W. Parsons—An appreciation". Psychiatric Quarterly 11 (4): 694–696. doi:10.1007/BF01562891. 
  4. ^ a b Castellani, Paul J. (2005). From snake pits to cash cows: politics and public institutions in New York. SUNY Press. p. 31. ISBN 0-7914-6439-3. 
  5. ^ Pressman, Jack D. (2002). Last Resort: Psychosurgery and the Limits of Medicine. Cambridge Studies in the History of Medicine. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-52459-8. 
  6. ^ Pecorella, Robert F.; Stonecash, Jeffrey M. (2006). Governing New York State (5th ed.). SUNY Press. pp. 335–336. ISBN 0-7914-6691-4. 
  7. ^ Brooks, Clayton McClure (2008). A legacy of leadership: governors and American history. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 71. ISBN 0-8122-4094-4. 
  8. ^ "Newton Bigelow, 87, Mental Health Official". The New York Times. February 9, 1991. Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
  9. ^ "In memoriam, Paul H. Hoch, M.D.". Psychiatric Quarterly 39 (1): 140–141. doi:10.1007/BF01569455. 
  10. ^ "Alan D. Miller, M.D., M.P.H.". Psychiatric Quarterly 40 (1): 394. doi:10.1007/BF01562768. 
  11. ^ Carey, Benedict (October 28, 2006). "Lawrence C. Kolb, 95, Leader In Mental Health Movement". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
  12. ^ "James A. Prevost, 58, Mental Health Leader". The New York Times. June 3, 1993. Retrieved 2011-05-19. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]