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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: August 12, 2021 04:18 PM
From: Representative Kristine C. Howard
To: All House members
Subject: Preventing future mental health care shortages
One of the many issues brought to light by the COVID pandemic has been the dire lack of access to mental health treatment across the Commonwealth. We can help address this shortage by giving support to the underappreciated behavioral health specialty of Clinical Social Work.  
Clinical social workers aid in the treatment and prevention of mental illness, and these licensed professionals are instrumental in assessing, diagnosing, and treating psychosocial disabilities and impairments, which often include mental and emotional disorders, developmental disabilities, and addiction. They help individuals address the psychological, emotional, social, or behavioral challenges involved in their day-to-day lives, and offer services and support to those in need.
Unfortunately, obstacles such as budget cuts, low wages, and high caseloads often lead to burnout among social workers, making it difficult to prepare a sufficient workforce to meet the growing demand. In fact, a 2015 study concluded that the continued growth of social worker supply would be unable to keep pace with anticipated demand by 2030, with Pennsylvania projected to have a shortage of 5,000 social workers by that time.
Given the importance of Clinical Social Work, a staff shortage will have an immense impact, as ever-more people will end up waiting indefinitely as their untreated issues fester.
To help negate the predicted social worker shortfall in Pennsylvania, I plan on introducing legislation to create the Social Worker Educational Enrollment and Training (SWEET) Program, which would provide financial assistance to qualified individuals participating in internship placement programs, as long as they agree to continue practicing Clinical Social Work in areas across the Commonwealth suffering from a lack of mental health services.
Not only will SWEET provide education and jobs for Pennsylvanians, perhaps more importantly, it will ensure no one goes without the help they need.
Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation to support these hardworking professionals to care for our most vulnerable populations. 

Introduced as HB1926