Skip to Main Content

Office of Mental Health

Overview Of The Mental Health Services Council

The Mental Health Services Council was created in 1982 by Chapter 724 of the laws of the State of New York. The effective date of the Council was April 1, 1983. Chapter 724 amended Section 7.05 of New York State's Mental Hygiene Law creating the Mental Health Services Council. What follows is a description of the statutory provisions underlying the Council, and a description of how the Council is currently operating.

Statutory Provisions

Council Composition
The Council consists of the Commissioner of Mental Health, the Chairman of the Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors, in addition to 26 members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Governor designates one of the appointed members of the Council as Chairman. At least one-half of the members of the Council shall not be providers of mental health services. Membership shall include:

Members are appointed for terms of three years. Of the members first appointed, one third shall be appointed for one-year terms and one third shall be appointed for two-year terms. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointments for the remainder of any expired term. No person shall be appointed as a member of the Council for more than six years in any period of 12 consecutive years.

Meeting Schedule
The Council shall meet at least four times in the full calendar year and the Council shall meet at the request of its Chair or the Commissioner.

Council Structure
The Council shall establish such committees as it deems necessary to address the service needs of special populations, in particular subjects of importance in the development of management of mental health services.

Council Function
The Council may consider any matter relating to the improvement of mental health services in the State and shall advise the Commissioner on any such matter. The Council shall establish statewide goals and objectives for services to persons with mental illness, review the annual Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Mental Health Services, developed and updated annually pursuant to Section 5.07 of Mental Hygiene Law, and report its recommendations to the Commissioner. The Council shall also review any State mental health services program plan prepared by the Office of Mental Health, and the mental health component of statewide health plans developed in accordance with any applicable federal law and shall report its recommendations thereon to the Commissioner, the Legislature and, where appropriate, the State health planning and development agency designated pursuant to the provisions of the national health planning and resource development act of 1974 and any amendments thereto.

The Council shall review prior approval review (PAR) applications filed in accordance with Mental Hygiene Law for the approval of a facility other than a family care home, community residence or residential care center for adults for which an operating certificate is issued by the Commissioner. The Council shall, at the request of the Commissioner, review any plans for construction, including a substantial change in bed capacity for the facilities operated by the Office of Mental Health and report its recommendations to the Commissioner.

At least 60 days prior to the Commissioner's final approval of rules and regulations other than emergency rules and regulations, the Commissioner shall submit proposed rules and regulations to the Council for its review. The Council shall review all proposed rules and regulations and report its recommendations to the Commissioner within 60 days. The Council by a majority vote of its members may propose rules and regulations on any matter within the regulatory jurisdiction of the Office of Mental Health other than the establishment of fee schedules. Such proposed rules and regulations shall be forwarded to the Commissioner for review and consideration.

Current Operations

The Council typically meets five times a year, usually on Fridays, either in Albany or in New York City. The full Council meets from noon to 2:00 pm, while meetings of its Committees typically take place the morning of each meeting day, from 10:00 to 11:30 am.

During the full Council meeting, the Chairperson provides his or her report, which is followed by reports from the Committees. Meeting time is also devoted to presentations and discussion of select topics.

Committee Structure
The Council is organized to include three Committees: Project Review, Regulations, and Planning. Major roles of each committee are as follow:

The Project Review Committee reviews Prior Approval Review (PAR) applications for consistency with criteria specified in PAR regulations and advises the full Council of Committee findings on individual projects. (All programs requiring licensure–for example inpatient, community residences, and outpatient–by the Office of Mental Health are required to obtain prior approval from the Office before a program can be developed or modified.) The full Council acts on the Committee's report, the results of which are forwarded as recommendations to the Commissioner. To ensure that projects are reviewed expeditiously, the Committee meets the day of each Full Council meeting and once or twice more each year on behalf of the full Council. The Committee is staffed by the Bureau of Inspection and Certification in the Office of Quality Management. (To learn more about the PAR process and recent changes to it, go to the Frequently Asked Questions on the New PAR process.)

The function of the Regulations Committee is to review all proposed rules and regulations of the Office of Mental Health, except emergency regulations, which are exempt from its review, and to report its recommendations to the full Council.

The process generally includes an initial presentation by OMH staff of the proposed rule, discussion by Committee members, and a vote by the Committee for approval or disapproval. The full Council then considers the Committee's recommendations based on a majority vote of Committee members. When the Commissioner elects to act not in accordance with the full Council recommendation, the Commissioner shall meet with the Council to explain and discuss such action. A member of Counsel's Office staffs the Committee.

The Planning Committee provides expertise and guidance to OMH Planning staff in developing the Statewide Comprehensive Plan. It typically meets by conference call between regular Council meetings.

Compliance with Executive Order No. 3
The Governor' issuance of Executive Order No. 3 on January 1, 2007, provided an opportunity to review the conduct of meetings of the Mental Health Services Council and bring them into compliance with the New York Open Meetings Law (Public Officers Law Section 101, et. seq.). Executive Order No. 3 requires all State agencies to identify meetings held by the agency that are subject to the Open Meetings Law and to establish a plan for webcasting those meetings beginning July 1, 2007. The purpose of the Executive Order is to enhance the public's access to the workings of New York State government. All full Mental Health Services Council meetings will, after the effective date, be webcast and the webcasts available, via this web site, to the public for a period of time.

Comments or questions about the information on this page can be directed to the Office of Planning.