State House committee OKs $100M for PA mental health needs
HARRISBURG, May 23 – The state House Human Services Committee unanimously approved legislation today that would allocate $100 million in federal funding to address Pennsylvania’s mental health needs, according to the bill’s author state Rep. Mike Schlossberg.
“Approximately 1.7 million Pennsylvanians live in a community that does not have enough mental health professionals. In the last year, 98,000 kids between the ages of 12 and 17 have been diagnosed with depression, yet 57% of them were unable to receive any care. Five Pennsylvanians take their own life every day. The time for hearings and studies is over! We know the problems. We have solutions. It is time to act, and act swiftly,” said Schlossberg, D-Lehigh.
As part of the 2022-23 state budget, the General Assembly established the Behavioral Health Commission on Adult Mental Health, a 24-person group tasked with providing recommendations to the General Assembly on how to appropriate $100 million in one-time federal American Rescue Plan funding to address behavioral health needs in Pennsylvania. The commission, composed of experts in the behavioral health field, advocates and providers, as well as Schlossberg and other legislators, created a set of recommendations.
Schlossberg’s legislation would take the following recommendations from the commission and expand the efforts to address the needs of struggling youth:
- $34 million toward behavioral health workforce improvements.
- $25.5 million for criminal justice and public safety initiatives.
- $40 million to expand access to mental health services and supports.
- $500,000 to evaluate the overall impact of these initiatives.
“We cannot afford to sit on $100 million in federal funds available to address the commonwealth's critical and ongoing need to support behavioral health services. I look forward to furthering negotiations with my colleagues in the House, the Senate and the Shapiro administration to get this over the finish line,” he said.
House Bill 849 moves to the full state House of Representatives for consideration.