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Office of Mental Health

About Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA)

The OCA currently consists of two Bureaus that tackle unique issues and services affecting various targeted groups and integral parts of the mental health system. These Bureaus provide, but are not limited to, advocacy, trainings, technical assistance and peer support.

Bureau of Recipient Affairs concentrates on all systemic issues regarding recipients of mental health services.

Bureau of Family Affairs speaks to the unique issues involving family members of those individuals receiving services from the mental health system.

Areas of Activity

Collaborating with recipient groups, family groups, individuals and other key stakeholders of NYS, the Office of Consumer Affairs works to promote and include recipients in making sure that mental health services and supports reflect the needs and preferences of informed recipients and, above all, support recovery. Through the Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) as well as other means, the OCA provides opportunities for recipients and families to express their concerns and then have those issues reflected in NYS Office of Mental Health policies. The OCA is guided by a belief in the importance of self–help, peer support, and the potential for each person to pursue his or her unique recovery goals.

What are Regional Advocacy Specialists?

Regional Advocacy Specialists (RAS), formerly known as Recipient Affairs Specialists are staff members of the Office of Consumer Affairs. These individuals operate as agents of NYS Office of Mental Health and are held to the same ethical standards as any other public employee representing the State. They are located in the various OMH field offices throughout New York State and are representatives of the Bureau of Recipients Affairs. Regional Advocacy Specialists are involved in the local communities of their respective regions and are responsible for promoting awareness of recovery, self–help and empowerment. They promote the inclusion of people who are current and former users of mental health services into all areas of the mental health system. A RAS must have lived experience and an outstanding knowledge of the mental health system. This lived experience allows each of them to bring their own individualized expertise to their job role. Having firsthand knowledge of what assist or hinders one’s journey of healing and recovery, Regional Advocacy Specialist travel throughout their assigned region insuring recipient/family input into internal and public processes affecting the services delivered through the mental health system.

Regional Advocacy Specialists are “change agents” and the “heart” of government.

Comments or questions about the information on this page, including accessibility issues, can be directed to the Office of Consumer Affairs.