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The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. Coalition Briefs
An electronic newsletter of the Coalition's Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery

Elizabeth Saenger, PhD, Editor
No. 103-1 May 2014

The Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery provides assistance to the New York City mental health provider community through expert trainings, focused technical assistance, evaluation, information dissemination and special projects.


What is MyPSYCKES? Why have its components, PSYCKES and CommonGround, won state and national awards for innovation? Find out from three of the stakeholders, and creators, most involved in My Psychiatric Services and Clinical Knowledge Enhancement System.                                

Empowerment by Computer

Elizabeth Austin

MyPSYCKES is an innovative, web-based application developed by the New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH) to strengthen consumers’ ability to track the outcomes of care, and participate in shared decision-making. MyPSYCKES has three main parts:

  • My Treatment Data, which gives consumers access to the last five years of their treatment history in Medicaid,
  • CommonGround, which consumers use to prepare for and engage in clinical discussions, and the
  • Learning Center, which provides information and recovery tools to support clients’ continued health education and illness management efforts.

The goals of the MyPSYCKES initiative are to empower and engage consumers in treatment, support shared decision making, and promote patient centered care and recovery.   Before each appointment with the physician, consumers use the MyPSYCKES program in their clinic Decision Support Center with the assistance of supportive peer staff. 

Consumers answer questions about their use of wellness activities and mental health medications, symptoms and status since their last appointment, concerns or challenges with their medicine, personalized health topics, and goals for their appointment and treatment overall.  MyPSYCKES then produces a one-page report that synthesizes the consumer’s answers to all the questions, and aggregates data from previous visits to show trends over time. 

The consumer and physician use this report in session to guide their discussion towards the consumer’s priorities and develop a shared decision about next steps in care. That treatment is then recorded in MyPSYCKES. 

Consumers can access the MyPSYCKES program resources from the clinic or home to support their symptom management and recovery.

The MyPSYCKES team collaborates with recipients of services, peer specialists, providers, health service researchers, and other stakeholders to discover their priorities, and evaluate how well MyPSYCKES meets the needs of consumers, physicians, and payors.

Elizabeth Austin is former Project Director for MyPSYCKES. Current Project Director Rachael Steimnitz can be reached at rachael.steimnitz@omh.ny.gov.


Going Beyond the Now

Molly Finnerty, MD

MyPSYCKES allows people to track their own sort of progress, symptoms, concerns, and goals for their sessions over time.  For example, one person reviewed her report and saw she had had difficulty sleeping for four months. Over that same period, she noticed many other symptoms had gotten worse.  She was able to make that observation for herself, so that when she went into her session, she was able to say much more definitively, “I think I need some help with this.”

We all sort of live in an ever-present now. MyPSYCKES allows people to see patterns over time. It helps people to get the long view, to say, "I can see that it wasn't that long ago that I was doing better, and I can be better again."

Molly Finnerty, MD, Director of the Bureau of Evidence Based Services and Implementation Science at NYSOMH, led the development of MyPSYCKES.


Changing the Script

Tony Trahan

What I like about MyPSYCKES is that it changes the script. People have learned the behavior of the patient over time, and clinicians have learned a role in this drama, too.  Patients get sicker and sicker the closer they get to their appointment, and more and more well after they leave, so that the clinician would feel like he was helping someone.  So it's like a dance we do.

MyPSYCKES interrupts that inauthenticity, that artificial encounter, because it makes you see yourself beyond being a patient, as someone who actually has something else that he can offer the world, and something else he wants to do, such as be an employee, or a father, or an artist, or a musician—to take some other role in society.  It forces the dialogue with the physician to change, and to focus on what we can do with treatments, especially medication, to help you fulfill that desired role.  So it's not just medication for symptom management, or stabilization, or as a response to, “here's my side effect, give me another pill.” It's to help you with your life.

In short, the system encourages, or somehow stimulates, sick behavior, which visits to the professionals then reduce, or seem to cure, so there's a layer of inauthentic helping going on. MyPSYCKES cuts through that.

Tony Trahan, Advocacy Specialist II at the NYSOMH, works with Dr. Finnerty to refine MyPsyckes in response to feedback from consumers. He can be reached at tony.trahan@omh.ny.gov.


American Psychiatric Association Convention, May 3-7, New York

Secret Sauce: Snippets from Patrick Kennedy

Patrick Kennedy: The secret sauce is mental health. It’s the way you are going to reduce cardiovascular disease and all the comorbid [conditions].

RECOVERe-works: Do you think working for parity could be considered part of recovery for people with diagnoses of psychiatric illness?

Patrick Kennedy: Yes. Stigma and anonymity mean we don’t have a political lobby… if you’re in recovery, you need to be active as a citizen.

RECOVERe-works: Do you think you will see parity in your lifetime? And after parity, what do you foresee as the next political challenge in mental health?

Patrick Kennedy: There’s no one real victory. You always need to fight stereotypes and out-and-out discrimination.  We need to fight always. Parity law is the vehicle.

 Mr. Kennedy, a US Representative from Rhode Island from 1995 to 2011, has campaigned passionately for parity after facing his own difficulties with bipolar disorder and a history of substance abuse.

Coming Attractions: Portrait of Recovery and Resilience

Our coverage of the American Psychiatric Association will include an exclusive interview with APA presenter Lisa J. Halpern, MPP, on professional and personal aspects of recovery--from practical strategies you may not yet know to matter-of-fact recollections of perseverance and resilience you may find inspirational, or even awesome. Stay tuned! 


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To subscribe or unsubscribe to RECOVERe-works, a free publication of the Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery at the Coalition, please email esaenger@coalitionny.org.



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