New York State Department of Mental Hygiene

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Department of Mental Hygiene
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Department overview
JurisdictionNew York
Key document

The New York State Department of Mental Hygiene is a department of the New York state government.

It is composed of three autonomous offices.[1] These offices are headed up by a commissioner who also serves on a council that performs inter-office coordination.[2]

Their regulations are compiled in title 14 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations.

Mental health[edit]

The majority of the public mental health system is in voluntary outpatient programs, the largest and most used being clinic treatment services.[3] Inpatient care is provided mainly by state psychiatric centers, supplemented by homeless shelters, the general hospital network, and jails.[4] 45–57% of New York mental health consumers use Medicaid, which is the largest single source of funding.[5]

The Office of Mental Health (OMH) is responsible for assuring the development of comprehensive plans, programs, and services in the areas of research, prevention, and care, treatment, rehabilitation, education, and training of the mentally ill.[6] Programs include in-patient, out-patient, partial hospitalization, day care, emergency, and rehabilitative treatments and services.[7]


The department was founded in 1926 with the original name being Office of mental hygiene; 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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse was transferred from the New York State Department of Health to the Department of Mental Hygiene in 1962.[11] In 1978, the Department of Mental Hygiene was reorganized into the autonomous Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Office of Mental Health (OMH), and the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD). These three offices are headed up by a commissioner who also serves on a council that performs inter-office coordination.[2] In 2010 the OMRDD became the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).[12][13] In 2019 the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse became the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS).[14][15]


  • 1927–1937, Frederick W. Parsons[8]
  • 1937–1943, William J. Tiffany[9]
  • 1943–1950, Frederick MacCurdy[16]
  • 1950–1954, Newton Bigelow[17]
  • 1955–1964, Paul H. Hoch[18]
  • 1966–1974, Alan D. Miller[19]
  • 1975–1978, Lawrence C. Kolb[20]
  • 1978–1982, James A. Prevost[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mental Hygiene Law § 5.01
  2. ^ a b c 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. ^ Statewide Comprehensive Plan 2016–2020, pp. 5, 12.
  4. ^ Eide, Stephen (November 2018). Systems Under Strain: Deinstitutionalization in New York State and City (Report). Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. pp. 5, 8, 10, 11–12.
  5. ^ SAMHSA (25 June 2021). "2020 Uniform Reporting System (URS) Table For New York".
  6. ^ Mental Hygiene Law § 7.07
  7. ^ Mental Hygiene Law § 7.15
  8. ^ a b "Frederick W. Parsons—An appreciation". Psychiatric Quarterly. 11 (4): 694–696. doi:10.1007/BF01562891.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Pecorella, Robert F.; Stonecash, Jeffrey M. (2006). Governing New York State (5th ed.). SUNY Press. pp. 335–336. ISBN 0-7914-6691-4.
  12. ^ "Governor Paterson Announces OMRDD to Become Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD)" (Press release). Albany, NY: Governor of New York. 13 July 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  13. ^ L. 2010, c. 168, enacted 13 July 2010. A11197, 2009-2010 legislative session.
  14. ^ "NYS OASAS Announces Name Change From the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to the Office of Addiction Services and Supports" (Press release). OASAS. 29 October 2019. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  15. ^ L. 2019, c. 281, enacted 13 September 2019. A7347, 2019-2020 legislative session.
  16. ^ Brooks, Clayton McClure (2008). A legacy of leadership: governors and American history. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 71. ISBN 0-8122-4094-4.
  17. ^ "Newton Bigelow, 87, Mental Health Official". The New York Times. February 9, 1991. Retrieved 2011-05-19.
  18. ^ "In memoriam, Paul H. Hoch, M.D.". Psychiatric Quarterly. 39 (1): 140–141. doi:10.1007/BF01569455.
  19. ^ "Alan D. Miller, M.D., M.P.H.". Psychiatric Quarterly. 40 (1): 394. doi:10.1007/BF01562768.
  20. ^ Carey, Benedict (October 28, 2006). "Lawrence C. Kolb, 95, Leader In Mental Health Movement". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-19.
  21. ^ "James A. Prevost, 58, Mental Health Leader". The New York Times. June 3, 1993. Retrieved 2011-05-19.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]