Pennsylvania Counseling Services is a provider of outpatient counseling services in person and via telehealth. In the following article, Pennsylvania Counseling Services reviews the mental health funding crisis in the keystone state.
State funding for professional mental health services in Pennsylvania has consistently been lower than the need for many years. Without strong collaborations between county leaders, this funding crisis will continue to negatively affect community psychiatric services like education, prevention, day services, treatment, crisis intervention, and support for those discharged from state facilities.
Following the trying times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for such services is only growing. The state and its leaders must actively engage in providing funding to ensure the financial crisis doesn’t turn into more of a health crisis.
Increasing Mental Health Funding Is County Leaders’ Top Priority
Pennsylvania Counseling Services notes that every county in the Commonwealth is responsible for planning, offering, and contracting essential mental health services. However; among others, the Bradford County Commissioner and County Commissioners Association of PA President, says there has been a shortfall of county program funding for years, even though the need for it has increased.
Pennsylvania Counseling Services reviews that if the state continues like this, it will see catastrophic consequences for residents affected by mental health problems.
Thankfully, the county leaders chose boosted funding for the mental health system as their number one priority this year (2022). They called for extra investments to safeguard the current web of services before offering additional programs.
COVID-19 And Its Ever-Lasting Mental Health Affects
Pennsylvania Counseling Services reviews that while experts say PA’s mental health system was already lagging, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it to its absolute limit. Services are at their breaking points, with more people suffering from poor mental health than ever before.
The Pennsylvania Counseling Services’ President and Chief Operating Officer, says an increased number of citizens are suffering from pandemic-caused anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and depression.
Throughout the state, but especially in the southcentral area, professionals have noticed an unpredictably sky-high spike in demand for all adults’ and children’s mental health services.
Pennsylvania Counseling Services reviews that the same can be said for school-based health centers. In the last two years, mental distress in students has risen sharply. Education establishment-based nurses and administration staff members are continuously turning to school mental health programs for student support. But these programs are also overwhelmed with unprecedented accessors.
The Executive Director of the PA School-Based Health Alliance expressed the urgent need for more funding. Otherwise, there are concerns that the state’s students won’t recover and thrive from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The $100 Million In-School Support Grant
In response to the critical mental health funding crisis and the ever-growing pressure from county leaders, agency-based staff, and mental health advocates and the recent spate of mass shootings across the nation, Pennsylvania lawmakers approved a $100 million support grant for schools and educational establishments.
Pennsylvania Counseling Services reviews that a $100,000 base grant will be given to each school district, and charter school facilities will get $70,000. On top of that, Pennsylvania’s Safety and Security Fund (established in 2018 to enhance physical school safety) will receive $100 million.
The head advocacy officer for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, reports that the funding will allow schools to proactively and preventatively address mental health concerns before crisis levels emerge.
Upon receiving the funding, school districts have already begun to provide increased mental health services by boosting the number of school-based psychologists and counselors and outsourcing through telephone-centric help.
Lawmakers’ Funding Promises for Other Mental Health Services Across the State
Pennsylvania Counseling Services reviews that aside from the school-based mental health funding, policymakers have set aside $42.6 million for mental health facilities in all counties that offer community and at-home behavioral health programs.
Plus, an extra $100 million influx from federal relief funding will go toward adult behavioral care.
Still, A Strong Collective Effort Is Needed to Prevent Catastrophes
Over the past year, 40% of state students in grades six, eight, ten, and 12 said they were sad or depressed during most days. And while the extra funding will undoubtedly help address such concerns, Bucks County’s Children’s Services Director reports that it’s going to take an ongoing effort from all professionals involved to ensure the situation doesn’t escalate.
Pennsylvania Counseling Services reviews that the community must support its youth and vulnerable adults to improve mental health over the next year and beyond. Pennsylvania can achieve positive mental health for its citizens by working together and continuously increasing service funding.