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Pennsylvania counties say they need more funding for mental health services

  • Scott LaMar
Mental health, human head, psychological help, psychiatry concept, therapy course, cognitive development, vector line icon

Mental health, human head, psychological help, psychiatry concept, therapy course, cognitive development, vector line icon

Airdate: March 13, 2023

A CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation national poll last fall found more than 90 percent of Americans believe the U.S. is in a mental health crisis. Those polled cited depression and anxiety in adults and children as significant issues.

In Pennsylvania, counties often provide mental health services.

In his budget proposal last week, Gov. Josh Shapiro said he wants the General Assembly to approve $20 million in new funding for mental health services administered by counties.

But is it enough?

On The Spark Monday, Lisa Schaefer, Executive Director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania addressed whether $20 million is enough to fully fund mental health services provided by counties,”Given that we haven’t seen an increase at all in 13 years, we are certainly appreciative of seeing Governor Shapiro’s commitment to starting to look at an increase for funding and also not just the timeline for next year, but also a long term commitment over the coming years after that. No, I think we view that 20 million as a down payment. It’s a good step toward building that crumbling infrastructure that we’ve been seeing. And if we can build up, take that increase and then build on it from there, it will certainly help us to make an investment back in the system that has been struggling for so long.”

Annie Strite, Cumberland and Perry County Mental Health Services Administrator, said her agency is working with a $2.5 million deficit — all the while seeing more people who are need of services. She indicated that a staffing shortage and not enough money leads to longer wait times for those who need services.

Counties are mandated by state law to provide mental health services. Strite listed which ones,”We provide crisis intervention services, we provide residential services for adults. We also provide treatment services that are also funded, other revenue streams like private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. So we pay for outpatient services, sometimes inpatient services, if a person is eligible for that. We also pay for case management services and various levels of case management. So in terms of case management services, resource coordination, as well as an administrative level of case management services with varying caseloads. So as you might imagine, intensive case management has a very low caseload. So a case manager will work with a small number of people as well as forensic case management services we pay for. Counties do things differently too. I should also add that. But peer support specialists, we pay for social rehab services, psychiatric rebuilt, rehabilitation services, as well as then we pay for. Representation when there is court ordered treatment. So for for mental health hearings, the mental health the review officers as well as and solicitors and funded through our county offices.”

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