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04/18/2024 02:17 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20210&cosponId=37369
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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: May 24, 2022 10:47 AM
From: Representative Jennifer O'Mara
To: All House members
Subject: Legislative Package to Join the National Counseling Compact & Changes to Behavioral Specialists
 
Across the country, we are facing a mental health crisis. In fact, Mental Health America reports that 21% of adults live with a mental health condition and 46% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition in their lifetime. Due to an increased demand for mental health services exacerbated by the pandemic and a shortage of mental health providers, finding treatment without a months long waitlist can be nearly impossible.  

 

Pennsylvanian’s desperately need greater access to mental health providers, which is why I am introducing the National Counseling Compact legislative package. This package of bills would address two important, but related issues: one bill that would allow us to enter a national licensing compact for professional counselors and another to keep uniformity of the compact with regards to the licenses that provide counseling services. This legislative package is the companion to Sen. Boscola’s and Sen. Schwank’s legislation in the Senate.  

 

Please see below for additional information on each of these bills. I hope you will join me in advocating for increased access to treat mental health conditions. 



Document #1

Introduced as HB2852

Description: I will be introducing legislation which would authorize the Commonwealth to join the National Counseling Compact. This compact is an occupational licensure agreement based on the mutual recognition of both education and practices for counselors across multiple states. The compact works by permitting a practitioner's home state license to be mutually recognized by other compact member states based on a set of criteria laid out within the language of the compact. This model also provides counselors and their patients to have more opportunity as to where and how they provide treatment.  
  
We have seen what the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the physical and mental health of Pennsylvanians of all ages. By joining the National Counseling Compact, we are widening the spectrum of professional health services in order to support and provide relief in our communities. 
 

Document #2

Description: I plan to introduce legislation which would move licensed behavior specialists from the State Board of Medicine to the jurisdiction of the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors. Adoption of this legislation to move behavior specialists under the professional counselors’ board will provide the necessary uniformity enabling Pennsylvania to join the National Counseling Compact, a licensure reciprocity agreement between states for professional counselors. This bill is crucial to the compact authorization legislation in order to have licensed therapists/counselors under one licensure board. Several hospitals and health systems have indicated that there has been a dire need for more of these licensed individuals, and the pandemic has only increased that demand.