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Addressing the Behavioral Health Crisis: 3 Strategies that Will Make a Difference

September 16, 2022

HAP is encouraging Pennsylvania to support behavioral health care through investments that bolster the behavioral health workforce, integrate psychiatric care into primary care settings, and help hospital emergency departments better care for people in crisis.

HAP made the recommendations last week to the Behavioral Health Commission for Adult Mental Health, a blue-ribbon panel tasked with guiding how the General Assembly and governor should spend $100 million in one-time, federal relief funds set aside in the 2022–2023 state budget for adult behavioral health.

Specifically, HAP encouraged the commission to consider:

  • Bolstering the behavioral health care workforce by expanding peer support services, establishing scholarships for prospective behavioral health professionals, and providing funding for retention initiatives.
  • Supporting the collaborative care model through grants and technical support to integrate psychiatric care into primary care settings.
  • Improving care for people in crisis and hospitals’ ability to manage capacity by investing in infrastructure needed to establish EmPATH units (or something comparable), which provide a safe environment to stabilize people experiencing a psychiatric crisis, help them recover faster, and reduce the use of physical restraints and unnecessary hospitalizations.

The recommendations for investing the one-time money are a step in HAP’s larger, long-term strategy to expand Pennsylvanians’ access to behavioral health care. HAP’s recommendations are available online.

For more information, contact Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy.