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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 8, 2019 04:03 PM
From: Senator Michele Brooks
To: All Senate members
Subject: Mental Health Provider Shortage
There is a growing need for mental health services in this Commonwealth; however, there is also a growing shortage of licensed mental health professionals. Meeting mental health needs is critical to optimizing the health and well-being of Pennsylvanians. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 18% of adults in Pennsylvania have a mental illness and over 4.2% of adults have a serious mental illness. However, what is most alarming is that approximately 54% of the adult population did not receive treatment for their mental illness in 2017.

Additionally, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 20% of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition and while suicide rates continue to climb for all age groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24.

In the 2018 Pennsylvania School Safety Report, not only was it made clear that there are insufficient staffing levels to treat the mental health needs of Pennsylvania students, but also misunderstanding by school personnel, families and communities on the difference between the varying professions and their training and expertise. This is important to note as there may be professionals working in this Commonwealth who do not possess the appropriate credentials to clinically diagnose mental health conditions or develop treatment plans accordingly.

Nevertheless, the impact of this shortage can be felt in all corners of this Commonwealth and by all persons. From children to adults to our aging population, from our schools to the Department of Corrections, from healthcare to the overall economy, the costs of untreated mental illness continue to grow and while the numbers are staggering, the potential loss of life is even more devastating.

Therefore, I will soon be introducing a resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study specifically on the mental health provider shortage in Pennsylvania, in an effort to find solutions to this growing problem. I hope you will join me in this effort.

Introduced as SR168