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New York City Seal
Press Release
NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
Office of Public Affairs
CONTACT: Sandra Mullin/Kelly Sobel
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
(212) 788-5290
(877) 640-1347


Department of Health and Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services are Merged

Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH today announced the launch of the new Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), an agency formed by the merger of the former Department of Health and Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services. The new agency's mandate is to protect and promote the health and mental hygiene of all New Yorkers. City residents approved the merger in a charter-revision vote on Election Day 2001. The name change was approved today by the City Council.

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Commissioner of the new agency, said, "At its core, the Department represents a new way of addressing health and behavioral health issues that are so often inextricably linked. No longer will 'health' concerns be separate from those of 'mental hygiene,' a term that encompasses the areas of mental health, developmental disabilities, and chemical dependencies. Moreover, the new agency has already begun building bonds between our former departments to strengthen health and mental health promotion, planning, communication, and data systems to better accomplish our mission."

Dr. Frieden continued, "The need for an integrated approach is clear. Consider that mental disorders are the leading cause of hospitalizations among 25-64 year olds in New York City, and that behavioral issues underlie many health problems, such as smoking, the City's leading cause of preventable death. The new department allows us to address complex public health problems with integrated health and mental hygiene responses."

The new agency contains a Division of Mental Hygiene headed by Lloyd I. Sederer, MD - who recently joined the Department from the American Psychiatric Association - that encompasses the programs formerly overseen by the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services. Dr. Sederer will oversee the Mental Hygiene Division, and a Deputy Commissioner will head each of the following areas: Mental Health, Early Intervention and Developmental Disabilities Services, Chemical Dependency and Health Promotion, and Administration.

There are five other divisions in the new agency: Disease Control, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Health Care Access and Improvement, and Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

The new agency, with a $1.3 billion budget and a staff of more than 6,000 personnel, will maintain all responsibilities of the two former agencies, which range from monitoring health and mental health status to issuing birth and death certificates, inspecting restaurants, addressing tuberculosis, AIDS/HIV and other diseases, to funding and overseeing programs that treat people with mental illness and/or chemical dependency and serve people with mental retardation. Information about the Department can be found on its Web site at