In January 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a focused all-agency effort and anti-stigma campaign, ‘Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters,’ aimed at expanding resources and the state’s comprehensive support of mental health and related health care priorities in Pennsylvania.
The governor announced several initiatives and reviews the administration will undertake for commonwealth agencies to bolster the effort. Furthermore, over the coming weeks, agencies will announce additional initiatives. The governor was joined by mental health advocates, social workers, educators, military veterans, and cabinet secretaries in making the announcement.
“For those struggling with their mental health, we have one message: Your mental health matters and it’s okay to reach out for help,” Gov. Wolf said. “We are stepping up our efforts to ensure every Pennsylvanian can access mental health care and more agencies can respond to the challenges facing Pennsylvanians struggling with their mental health. The act of reaching out for help – or to help – can make a huge difference for someone struggling.”
According to a 2017 study from the University of Southern California, approximately 1 million adult Pennsylvanians struggled with serious psychological distress at least once in 2015. Of those adults, more than 27 percent had an unmet need for mental health care. That population includes 42 percent who did not receive mental health care because they could not afford it.
Strengthening Mental Health Care Access
The Department of Human Services will take steps to incentivize the integration of physical and behavioral health services to remove barriers to coordinating care and treatment. DHS will create financial incentives to encourage managed care organizations that provide Medical Assistance benefits to create, maintain, and continuously improve collaboration between the entities and providers that coordinate and deliver physical health benefits and mental health benefits.
These steps will mark the beginning of a large-scale effort to combat mental health issues in Pennsylvania. Reach Out PA, the Suicide Prevention Task Force, and other Wolf Administration focuses will continue to bust the stigma surrounding mental health, and work together in a multi-pronged push.