Hohenstein, Policy Committee talk mental health in substance use treatment and recovery

PHILADELPHIA, March 6 – State Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Phila., today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing at Friends Hospital that focused on the role of mental health in substance use disorder treatment and recovery.

Hohenstein and colleagues from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, heard testimony from local officials and advocates on how they can work together to provide better treatment to those with substance abuse problems. The conversation included ways the legislature can help pave a path to provide better assistance to successful long-term recovery.

“The stigma associated with mental health is often a major challenge to overcome. That can start a difficult spiral leading to substance abuse issues. I’d like to thank Chairman Sturla and my colleagues for having this conversation that will ultimately help our friends and family seek the help they need,” Hohenstein said.

Sturla added, “Any time we can come together to help people know that we can empathize with what they’re going through, I think is helpful. People don’t look at a cancer patient and say, ‘You’ve had 30 days of treatment, we can’t do anything more for you right now,’ and we need to stop doing that with substance abuse issues.”

The committee heard testimony from Lynn Kovich, deputy secretary for the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services; Ellen DiDomenico, deputy secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs; Steven Datlof, board-certified psychiatrist and distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association; Michael Blank, professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine; David Como, executive director, Northeast Community Center for Behavioral Health; Ken Martz, psychologist, Gaudenzia, Inc.; Elvis Rosado, education and community outreach coordinator, Prevention Point Philadelphia; Mitali Patnaik, medical director, Friends Hospital Crisis Response Center; Devin Reaves, executive director, Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition; Dawn Holden Woods, CEO, Turning Points for Children; and Rebecca Bonner, director, The Bridge Way School.

The meeting is one in a series held across the state on House Democrats’ Plan4PA, focused on putting people first, good jobs, health care access, quality schools and job training, and a fair economy. Additional information about the plan is available at www.plan4pa.com.

Hearing testimony and video will be available at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee.