County’s Director of Community Mental Hygiene Services to Retire

Submitted by gallagha on Thu, 04/08/2021 - 09:45


Patricia Brinkman Retires on April 10, 2021

After 21 Years of Service, Brinkman Leaves a Nationally Respected Department Fiscally Sound


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Pictured, Patricia Brinkman, Director of Community Mental Hygiene Services for the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene.


MAYVILLE, N.Y.:-- Patricia Brinkman, Director of Community Mental Hygiene Services for the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, has announced her retirement.

Brinkman has led the Department since 2000. She leaves the department on solid financial ground, largely funded through aggressive and strategically targeted state and federal grants.

Brinkman has worked tirelessly to champion mental health in the community with a heavy focus to increase the department’s service capacity. For years, she has guided a team of professionals working to bring quality services to support the most vulnerable members of our community who are facing mental health and substance abuse challenges.

Under Brinkman’s guidance and strategic vision, Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene (CCDMH) has greatly expanded its reach into our community. A system of care has been put in place to effectively provide an array of community-based services and supports. Service treatment modalities and service hours available in our mental health and chemical dependency clinics have expanded.  Brinkman also brought the department into partnerships that addressed needs in less visible ways, particularly in our school systems, from elementary to the local colleges. Collaboratively, department staff and many of our schools have established strong suicide awareness and prevention initiatives and some school districts have been trained in the strength-based approach to guiding behavior and creating a positive culture that supports appropriate behavior, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.

During her time, Brinkman served in other capacities as well to advance the field and promote the County.  She is a former officer of the Conference of Mental Hygiene Directors, a founding member of the New York State Campaign for Behavioral Healthcare Transformation, has served as chair of the New York (NY) Success Advisory Council and as co-chair of the Board of Directors of the NY Care Coordination Program. Brinkman also served on the Chautauqua County Long Term Care Council, a position appointed by the Chautauqua County Executive.

“There are some people you meet who you just know they are doing what they love, and Pat is one of those people,” said Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel. “The mental health field is demanding work, often with little reward and yet Ms. Brinkman never wavered from the challenge. Her work has set a strong course for this County in the field of mental health going forward. While I will miss coordinating with her on the many challenges we currently face in the community, I wish her the best in retirement and thank her for her dedicated service to Chautauqua County.”

By increasing revenue generated by the CCMHD clinics and obtaining state and federal funding through grants, the department has been able to expand its services over the years.  Highly competitive grants usually awarded to larger metropolitan and suburban areas have been secured by CCDMH. Most notably, the department received two awards totaling $13 million from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHSA) to transform, expand and enhance the child serving system in our county. Only 23 other grants were awarded nationwide.

Brinkman also made countless trips to Albany and Washington on behalf of this community over the years as needed, bringing a voice to those struggling with issues.

“Seeking assistance is a sign of strength not weakness,” was a motto she often voiced.

It has been important to Brinkman to work closely with community-based partners that share her vision to build stronger communities.  Some partners CCDMH has collaborated with to identify, address and prioritize the behavioral health needs of our communities are UPMC-Chautauqua, SUNY Fredonia and the Mental Health Association.

“Only through being creative and collaborative have we been able to tackle the challenges our community has faced throughout the years,” said Brinkman. “It has been important to work closely with community-based partners along the way. Of course, I have been blessed to guide some of the finest and most talented professionals in behavioral health. I know that they will continue to build on the work already done. It was always, and will always be, about a better Chautauqua County for everyone.”

Patricia’s last day will be this Friday, April 9, 2021. She plans to remain a Chautauqua County resident and focus more time on her husband and family, as well as write, consider volunteer activities and looks forward to travelling when it is safe to do so.

The County Executive has begun the process of finding a new department director.



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