Adams County commissioners are looking to increase state funding to support key community mental health services.
The three commissioners at a meeting on Thursday passed a resolution calling for adequate funding in the next 2022-2023 state fiscal budget to “support the torn mental health system”.
Commissioners are looking to increase state funding to invest in key community mental health services such as crisis intervention, community residency programs, family-based care, and outpatient care.
In 2012, the state cut $ 84 million by “shutting down programs used by counties to fund programs for people with intellectual disabilities, mental health challenges and other needs and forcing the human services system to weaken,” according to the resolution.
Commissioner Marty Qually said there has been a mental health crisis over the past decade.
“This has been going on under the rug for somehow 10 years,” Qually said. “Every country has problems.”
Mental health was a top priority for the Pennsylvania County Board of Commissioners (CCAP), a membership organization that represents each of Pennsylvania’s 67 elected officials, said Board Chair Randy Phiel, who serves on the CCAP Council.
“The Commonwealth needs to work effectively with partners in the region to fully meet the needs of vulnerable citizens with mental health problems, especially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. to be able to get attention, ”according to the CCAP website.
Copies of the resolution, No. 7, 2022, together with a letter will be sent to local and state representatives, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, and the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office to request additional funding, according to officials.
Sharon Harlacher, county director of the York / Adams Mental Health – Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (MH-IDD) Program, and Tony Schweitzer, executive director of Bell Socialization Services, spoke at a meeting of commissioners about the effects of mental health. in their respective roles.
“On behalf of York and Adams County mental health providers, I applaud and thank them for taking this action to call attention to a chronic condition affecting the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Schweitzer said. “People who suffer from a serious mental illness based on a government-funded safety net have seen a lot of holes and tears. This problem is not new.”
Schweitzer, who has spent 30 years in the human services field, said he has never regretted a day in his career, but is concerned about the future of the field because good and competent people do not have the opportunity to work in the field.
“After a 10% statewide cut and a decade of funding that ignored the reality of rising cost of living, our system is severely damaged. We need to change the course of our system based on competent and compassionate people to fix those holes and tears,” he said. said Schweitzer.
Vice President Jim Martin said it was essential for people to receive help, and that those in prison needed mental health care.
A report on Suicide Trends and Prevention by the Center for Rural Development showed that there has been a large increase in suicides in the state over the last 20 years and a higher increase in rural areas, according to the resolution.
Prime Minister Tom Wolf’s initial budget proposal shows a $ 36.6 million increase in the county’s basic mental health funds to protect state behavioral health needs ” also to provide services to people with intellectual disabilities and / or autism who are currently on the emergency waiting list, ”according to the resolution.
County officials plan to work with the General Assembly and the administration to “work on a strategic and strategic investment in regional mental health services at the regional level, to continue with the existing safety net, and to increase the availability of mental health services.” according to.