Pa. House OKs $100M for PA mental health needs

HARRISBURG, June 7 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today passed legislation 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.

“This money has been allocated. The uses have been thoroughly vetted. It’s time to get this money out the door to serve Pennsylvanians. I am grateful for the bipartisan support this legislation received and look forward to working with the Senate and Governor Josh Shapiro to get this done so we can get people the help they need,” said Schlossberg, D-Lehigh.

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.

“We know the problems and we have solutions. It is time to get this money into programs that can help people who need it across our commonwealth,” Schlossberg said.

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 Pennsylvanians:

  • $34 million to workforce development and retention in behavioral health, including training, paid internships, loan repayment and tuition assistance for aspiring mental health professionals.
  • $31.5 million to expand criminal justice and public safety programs and for grants administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
  • $18 million for suicide prevention.
  • $10 million for behavioral health integration by primary care practitioners and practices.
  • $3.5 million for grants to develop peer-led mental health and substance use disorder services.
  • $3 million for the state Department of Human Services to make grants for technology and training for behavioral health telehealth providers.

House Bill 849 now moves to the state Senate for consideration.