• Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

Wolf Administration Releases Commission on Behavioral Health Report, Presents Recommendations for Allocation of $100 Million to Address Behavioral Health Needs

ByChad J. Johnson

Oct 5, 2022

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – The Wolf administration today released a report outlining the Behavioral Health Commission’s recommendations for adult behavioral health. Created by Law 54 of 2022, the multidisciplinary commission was tasked with making recommendations to the General Assembly for the allocation of $100 million in one-time American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding included to meet the needs adult behavioral health in 2022- 23 Tax Code.

“The commission’s work is an important first step in charting a course for investment in a system that so desperately needs our support, and I am grateful for its work and leadership. I look forward to working with the General Assembly to funnel this funding to our county partners and the behavioral health field,” said Acting Secretary of Human Services Meg Snead. “But as this work draws to a close, we must not lose the momentum we have created. Mental illness and behavioral health impact every aspect of our lives, and we must continue this work on behalf of Pennsylvanians who need a responsive and resilient behavioral health system and the people who choose to do this work. essential that saves lives.

“It has been an honor to play a leadership role alongside DHS Psychiatric Director Dr. Dale Adair and among many qualified experts and behavioral health professionals in the common goal of improving the behavioral health system for all Pennsylvanians,” said Acting Insurance Commissioner Mike Humphreys. “Our report reflects the current challenges faced by people accessing behavioral health services as well as healthcare heroes who provide essential services. Every dollar counts in this struggling behavioral health space, and we hope these funds will help improve the quality and capacity of behavioral health for those who need it most.

“Pennsylvanians who need behavioral health services are counting on all of us to work to implement these recommendations,” said Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Denise Johnson. “I look forward to improving equitable access to behavioral health care through innovative approaches like telemedicine and integrating services into primary care settings.

“I applaud the work and due diligence of this commission and the Wolf administration’s continued focus on addressing behavioral health needs and expanding access to care based on those needs,” said Jennifer Smith, program secretary of the Department of Drugs and Alcohol. “I look forward to working toward the collective goals of the commission, including destigmatizing care for behavioral health and substance use disorders, and strengthening and expanding prevention and intervention programs.”

Law 54 of 2022 established the Behavioral Health Commission for Adult Mental Health as an advisory body comprised of heads of state agencies (DHS, PID, DDAP, DOH, and PCCD), representatives of the Senate and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Pennsylvania communities, individuals with behavioral health diagnosis and clinical representation in various disciplines across the continuum of care.

“When an individual’s behavioral and mental needs are not met, the ripple effects on the community as a whole can be staggering,” said Senator Maria Collett. drop in the bucket of what is needed to adequately support the kinds of programs needed, I am optimistic that they will do some good and that our work has lit the way forward.

“This report represents an excellent starting point. The expert advice and feedback from appointees can help the state embark on a path to sustainable, long-term investments in mental health care across the state,” said Rep. Mike Schlossberg. . “I fully support its enactment and look forward to working with my legislative colleges to get this through the legislature and sending it to Governor Wolf for his signature.”

“This report gives us an essential roadmap for advancing mental health care and services in the Commonwealth,” said Representative Wendi Thomas. “The next step is to develop legislation to put these recommendations into action and share them with my colleagues to make these reforms a reality. It was an honor for me to be part of this commission.

The commission was tasked with making recommendations for the use of the funds.

​In recognition of the continued need for support for the behavioral health system, the following areas are recommended for investment of this one-time funding:

  • Stabilize, strengthen and expand the behavioral health workforce: Recognizing the strain placed on this system given the growing need for behavioral health support, $37 million should be allocated to recruitment and retention initiatives to attract qualified professionals in this field and support those who do this work. so that they are not too stressed and exhausted.

  • Improving criminal justice and public safety systems: The commission recommends that $23.5 million be used to support enhanced programs for people with behavioral health needs entering or involved in the criminal justice system. Recommendations include competitive grant funding and funding to counties to provide evidence-based mental health and addictions services while people are incarcerated and upon release, developing and expanding diversion and co- responding prior to arrest, and expanding training and services to meet the needs of people with concurrent behavioral health needs and developmental disabilities or autism who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

  • Expansion of service and support capacity: Behavioral health services should be accessible in all Pennsylvania communities. The commission recommends using $39 million to increase the availability of behavioral health services by expanding existing capacity and strengthening new local emergency responses such as walk-in and mobile emergency services, supporting the suicide prevention and local call centers, increasing the integration of primary care with behavioral health, addressing the social determinants of health that can exacerbate behavioral health problems, and supporting peer-led services and peer support to help Pennsylvanians with behavioral health needs.

Beyond recommendations for the use of the $100 million in one-time funding, the commission’s work generated two ongoing recommendations. The commission would like the forum to continue with a broader scope or ask the General Assembly to create a new body that can be dedicated to ongoing analysis and engagement in improving the health of the health system. Pennsylvania behavior. The commission also recommended that the General Assembly make a substantial and sustained investment in core funding for county-level mental health programs, which were cut by 10% in 2012 and have not seen an increase. substantial to meet the cost of care and current needs. daytime.

The recommendations in the report cannot be acted upon until the legislature passes additional legislation to authorize the use of recommended funds for Pennsylvania’s behavioral health system.

For more information about the Behavioral Health Commission for Adult Behavioral Health, visit https://www.dhs.pa.gov/Services/Mental-Health-In-PA/Pages/Adult-Mental-Health- Commission.aspx.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brandon Cwalina – [email protected]

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