PA counties call for action on President’s strategy for mental health funding

News Date: Wednesday, March 2, 2022

State Capitol
President Biden outlined a strategy to address the national mental health crisis, spotlighting the need to transform how mental health is understood, perceived and treated.
Funding for mental health services has lagged behind needs for years, negatively affecting crucial community-based mental health services, such as crisis intervention, support for individuals leaving state facilities, treatment, community consultation and education, day services and prevention.

During his inaugural State of the Union Address, President Biden outlined a strategy to address the national mental health crisis, spotlighting the need to transform how mental health is understood, perceived, accessed, treated and integrated – in and out of health care settings.

“In Pennsylvania, counties deliver critical mental health services on behalf of the state. However, the dynamic between the demand for services and the necessary funding is getting dangerously disproportionate,” said Lisa Schaefer, the Executive Director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.  “Rebuilding our crumbling mental health system needs a federal, state and local partnership, and we are grateful for the national attention the President gave this crisis during the State of the Union.”

In his strategy, President Biden advocates for expanding the availability of evidence-based community mental health services, integrating mental health and substance use treatment into primary care settings, increasing mental health services in correctional facilities and improving veterans’ access to same-day mental health care.

County leaders named appropriate funding for the crumbling mental health system as their top legislative priority in 2022, calling for increased investments to ensure that the existing safety net of services is fortified and sustainable, prior to adding additional programs and services.

“Counties have done an incredible job of running efficient programs and keeping costs down,” Schaefer said. “But if funding levels and other support for the county mental health system do not increase, it could have a devastating impact on Pennsylvania residents that depend on these critical services.”