Gov. Tom Wolf last week announced a multi-agency effort and anti-stigma campaign, “Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters,” aimed at expanding resources and the state’s support of mental health and related health care priorities in Pennsylvania.
“For those struggling with their mental health, we have one message: your mental health matters and it’s OK to reach out for help,” Wolf said. “We are stepping up our efforts to ensure every Pennsylvanian can access mental health care and more agencies can respond to the challenges facing Pennsylvanians struggling with their mental health. The act of reaching out for help – or to help – can make a huge difference for someone struggling.”
The Pennsylvania Insurance Department will pursue Mental Health Parity regulations to ensure Pennsylvanians’ health insurance coverage provides access to affordable mental health care. Recent market conduct reviews by the PID found that insurance companies are not adequately meeting federal and state requirements for mental health parity, necessitating stronger state regulations.
The Department of Human Services will create financial incentives to encourage managed care organizations that provide Medical Assistance benefits to create, maintain and continuously improve collaboration between the entities and providers that coordinate and deliver physical health benefits and mental health benefits.
Reach Out PA will include roundtable discussions to hear directly from those battling the stigma of mental illness, collaboration with community-based organizations to help increase public attention on mental illness and mental health care and outreach to elevate success stories and best practices. The first roundtable took place last Friday at Muhlenberg College in Allentown.
The administration will expand training of constituent affairs personnel on suicide prevention and mental health intervention. To date, more than 420 workers at the Department of Labor & Industry have received suicide prevention training. With this training, workers have already been able to recognize people who need help with their mental health, to intervene and connect them with services or support.
“The steps I’m outlining today are just the beginning of what I plan to grow into a large-scale effort to combat mental health issues in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said. “We’ve seen success with a multi-pronged attack against the opioid crisis. Reach Out PA will do the same with mental health.” ••