Otten, Policy Committee examine youth mental health

EXTON, Oct. 18 – State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, hosted a House Policy Committee hearing at the Lionville YMCA on youth mental health and efforts being made to end the stigma associated with discussing or seeking help for mental health issues.

She was joined by lawmakers from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster.

“There is a growing youth mental health crisis throughout the country,” Otten said. “Our kids need our help now. I want to ensure that the Pennsylvania legislature is doing all we can to improve mental health supports, build capacity in every part of the community, and increase access to mental health services for children, teens and families.”

“Ensuring the well-being of Pennsylvania’s children is among my top priorities,” Sturla said. “Opening up a dialog on how we can improve the access, quality and outcomes of care to youth in need helps us lawmakers better understand what we could be doing in Harrisburg to end this crisis.”

The committee heard testimony from the following:

  • Dr. Jane Thompson, psychotherapist, Chester Springs Clinical Associates LLC.
  • Anna Wojcik, student, Downingtown East High School.
  • Sara Stein, student, Downingtown East High School.
  • Mary Kwiatkowski, parent, Owen J. Roberts School District.
  • Dr. Bradley J. Dyer, pediatrician and founder, All Star Pediatrics.
  • Perk Musacchio, author, retired teacher and educational consultant.
  • Monica Reinhard-Gorney, author/educational counselor.
  • Cindy Kruse, educational and workforce consultant.
  • Dr. Pamela Brown, southeastern region president, PSEA.
  • Dr. Bridgette Miles, principal, Coatesville Area School District.
  • Cynthia Black, president, board of directors, Communities That Care of Greater Downingtown.
  • Candy Craig, mental health deputy administrator from Chester County Department of Mental Health/Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
  • Dr. Jason A. Lewis, associate director, Outpatient Program, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, CHOP.

The meeting was one in a series being 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 Hearing testimony and video will be available at