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NYS Office of Mental Health and Center for Practice Innovations at Columbia Psychiatry Treatment Training Courses is a Double Award Winner

Training programs that help people coping with mental illness become more self-sufficient recognized by the Horizon Interactive Awards and the Communicator Awards for innovative video and interactive design.

SALT LAKE CITY (May 31, 2011) — Two innovative training courses to train practitioners to treat people with mental illness, offered by the Office of Mental Health (OMH), and the Center for Practice Innovations at Columbia Psychiatry (CP), and The Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene (RFMH), has won two Horizon Interactive Awards, and a Communicator Award.

The course “Assertive Community Treatment (ACT): Promoting Recovery through a Mobile, Team-based Approach” was awarded silver by Horizon for excellent use of blending creativity and functionality in video and interactive media. The Focus on Integrated Treatment (FIT) training course was given a bronze award by Horizon for excellence in design and use of video in the course. FIT also earned a Communicator Award of Excellence for Best Interactive Design.

Michael F. Hogan, PhD, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health, said, “We are pleased and proud that our efforts to bring research-tested interventions into the mainstream have been recognized with these Horizon Interactive and Communicator awards. One of the reasons why evidence-based programs take so long to be incorporated into practice is that needed training is often expensive, inconvenient, and inaccessible to the front line clinical staff who need it most. The course developed by our colleagues at the Columbia/OMH Center for Practice Innovations with Allen Communications brings high quality training to the desktop of busy staff, in a self-paced and engaging format. This is terrific recognition of the quality of their work.”

The ACT course trains the ACT team, comprised of New York State mental health care providers, agency administrators and staff, to help people diagnosed with severe mental illness with recovery by providing mobile team-based treatment and support. The goal of ACT is to help people connect with needed services and supports to enable them to live a stable, satisfying and productive life in the community.

The ACT program began more than 30 years ago, when more than 400,000 people, or some 80 percent of people living in psychiatric hospitals, were discharged from state hospitals across the country. ACT, along with other community-based services, were developed and strengthened as an alternative to inpatient treatment. OMH, CP, and RFMH use ACT to offer a wide range of services customized to the individual. These services address managing symptoms, housing, finances, employment, medical care, substance abuse treatment, family support, and activities of daily living.

The FIT courses, developed in partnership with the NYS Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), are for mental health and addictions treatment professionals who treat people coping with Co-Occurring mental health and substance use Disorders (COD). One of these disorders is hard enough for a person to cope with. The occurrence of both at the same time, while very common, makes it more difficult for the person to get effective treatment. Traditionally, only the addiction or the mental illness was being treated. By training practitioners how to integrate the treatment of COD, the quality of care greatly improves for patients.

New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez said, “The FIT modules support the integration of substance use disorder and mental health treatment which is critical to improving the quality of care for those individuals seeking help. We are very pleased that these excellent learning modules continue to receive the recognition that they deserve.”

The award winning courses, designed by Allen Communication Learning Services, are web-based training modules that teach practitioners through a compelling mix of interactive activities and video vignettes. The ACT course vignettes feature former ACT program participants sharing how they live successfully in a variety of residential settings, stopped using substances, gained control of their mental illness, and live productive lives in the community. The FIT course vignettes feature people with COD sharing their recovery stories and video demonstrations of the skills practitioners need to treat people with COD.

“We’re pleased for this recognition for our video rich learning and excellence in interactive design,” said Ron Zamir, CEO of Allen Communication. “As the industry matures, companies like Allen need to be at the forefront in developing rich media for our clients and their learners. We congratulate OMH, OASAS, CP and RFMH for their approach to training, and are thankful our talented project managers, designers, graphic artists and programmers continue to receive industry recognition for the quality of their work. It is especially gratifying to be able to partner with these organizations to help improve communities, and the quality of life for the people within those communities.”

About The Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene

RFMH, a not-for-profit membership corporation, optimizes the research and training objectives of the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene and its component agencies. Since 1952, RFMH has promoted the widespread availability of evidence-based practices to improve mental health services, ensure accountability, and promote recovery-oriented outcomes for people.

About The Office of Mental Health

OMH, New York State’s mental health authority, plans and delivers high-quality, consumer and family focused treatment and rehabilitative services to adults and children with severe mental illness or emotional disturbance. OMH works closely with government and community mental health services to provide assistance and education that promote recovery and hope.

About the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services

OASAS oversees one of the nation’s largest addiction services systems dedicated to prevention, treatment and recovery, with more than 1,550 programs serving over 110,000 New Yorkers on any given day. Addiction is a chronic disease, but New Yorkers can know that help is available by calling the state’s HOPEline, 1-877-8-HOPENY. Please visit OASAS at

About Columbia Psychiatry

CP is ranked among the best departments and psychiatric research facilities in the nation. Their distinguished clinicians and researchers are renowned for their outstanding contributions in clinical and research advances in the diagnosis and treatment of depression, suicide, schizophrenia, bipolar and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and childhood psychiatric disorders. Visit for more information.

About the Horizon Interactive Awards

Since 2001, the Horizon Interactive Awards has received many thousands of entries from countries around the world. Each year, those entries are narrowed down to the best of the best to be recognized and promoted on an international stage for their excellence. The judging process involves a Horizon Interactive Awards advisory panel, end user panel and a worldwide panel of judges consisting of industry professionals. The 2010 winning entries showcase the industry’s best interactive media solutions including web sites, CDs and DVDs, online ads, video, mobile applications and more. For more information, visit

About The Communicator Awards

The Communicator Awards is the leading international awards program honoring creative excellence for communication professionals. Founded by communication professionals over a decade ago, The Communicator Awards is an annual competition honoring the best in advertising, corporate communications, public relations and identity work for print, video, interactive and audio. This year’s Communicator Awards received thousands of entries from companies and agencies of all sizes, making it one of the largest awards of its kind in the world. Please visit for more information.

The Communicator Awards is sanctioned and judged by the International Academy of the Visual Arts, an invitation-only body consisting of top-tier professionals from a “Who’s Who” of acclaimed media, advertising, and marketing firms.

About AllenComm

For three decades, the learning and development experts at Allen Communication Learning Services () have helped many of the world’s largest companies sharpen their organizational performance. Allen expands their client’s capabilities by using progressive approaches in custom training, e-learning, and blended learning development, as well as learning portal development and technologies. This bold approach results in highly-customized organizational training solutions that help departments scale and achieve more, while improving ROI. Follow Allen on Twitter @Allencomm, on LinkedIn, and on Facebook.