HAUPPAUGE, NY – During a recent Suffolk County Legislature General Meeting, Legislator Sarah Anker’s initiative to create a comprehensive Suffolk County Addiction Website was unanimously passed. The legislation, Introductory Resolution No. 1990-2020, directs the Suffolk County Department of Information Technology and the Department of Health to create a comprehensive Suffolk County website dedicated to addiction, mental health, substance use disorder prevention, and rehabilitation services.
The Health Department has a vast amount of information pertaining to addiction and mental health related resources, said Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker.
Advocates, providers and constituents alike have advised me that while the resources are out there, there hasn’t been a one source user-friendly way of finding the possibly life-saving resources. The hope is that by creating this site, we can increase the accessibility of these resources and have a better chance of providing information for those that are in need of help.
The need for the creation of the website was acknowledged during a public hearing of the Suffolk County Heroin and Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel. The panel was created via resolution 704-2017 Establishing a Permanent Heroin and Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel sponsored by Legislator Anker. She drafted the resolution in response to the growing opioid and substance abuse epidemic in Suffolk County and across the nation. During the October public hearing, Victoria Sunseri, a Suffolk County constituent in the medical field, noted that it was difficult for providers to locate mental health and/or addiction resources for their patients. The panel members echoed the importance of being able to connect a person to treatment options. In response, Legislator Sarah Anker is facilitating the creation of a website singularly dedicated to addiction and mental health resources and services. The website is expected to be launched in May of 2021.
Throughout the pandemic, we have received a surge in calls from individuals seeking mental health resources from crisis intervention, to addiction rehabilitation, and there has been no single access point for them to seek these services until now, said Victoria Sunseri.
Thanks to Legislator Anker and her support for the creation of this site, we can better serve the Suffolk County community by bridging the gap between private practice and public services referrals. This mental health hub will serve to empower individuals by reducing the time and frustration they might experience while seeking help appropriate to their needs and by streamlining reception of services through increasing the salience of who does what, where, and how.
I am grateful for the work of the panel members and the constituents who share their input at our public hearing meetings, said Legislator Anker.
With the ever-evolving nature of the opioid epidemic in combination with the challenging circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital for us to continue finding new ways to combat addiction and mental health issues. The importance of collaboration and listening to the needs of those we aim to help cannot be overstated.
The Suffolk County Heroin and Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel released their final 2020 report in December. For more information, please see the following link to the report https://www.scnylegislature.us/DocumentCenter/View/75095/122020-Suffolk-County-Heroin-and-Opiate-Epidemic-Advisory-Panel-Final-Report-PDF or call Legislator Anker’s office at (631) 854-1600.
Pictured: A person using a computer