Authors Posts by Sarah Eyster

Sarah Eyster

Ms. Eyster represents the association at state-level meetings and serves as staff liaison to the Mental Health Committee. She is responsible for member communication of, and the analysis of, Department of Human Services and other key policy decisions.

Today, SAMHSA released the latest data findings from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). NSDUH provides estimates of the use of illegal substances, prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, as well as mental disorders, treatment, and co-occurring substance use and mental disorders in the United States. This data also helps to identify the extent of substance use and mental illness among different sub-groups, estimate trends over time, and determine the need for treatment services.

Time is running out to save on your registrations for IMPACT, the 2019 Annual Conference! Early bird registration ends on Tuesday, September 3. The conference theme is focused on RCPA members impacting legislative, administrative, regulatory, and budget processes.

An interactive registration brochure has been prepared for download to provide essential information on the go. This brochure also indicates how to log into the conference app. The conference website is also available with information about all scheduled activities and details about workshops, exhibitors, and other events. Online registration is available both directly from this link and through the conference website.

  • Remember to make your hotel reservations before the room block expires on September 3.
  • Attendees will find the final agenda, workshops, and handouts through the conference website on or about September 10.
  • The RCPA mobile app is now available to registrants; the password for 2019 is rcpaconf.

Mark your calendars for September 24–27 and join the RCPA Conference Committee, Board of Directors, and staff at the Hershey Lodge. Questions about the conference may be directed to Sarah Eyster, conference coordinator, or Tieanna Lloyd, conference registrar.

Folders with the label Applications and Grants

The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) has announced a new Grant Initiative Funding Opportunity for Pregnancy Support Services. Eligible applicants must be able to serve pregnant women and postpartum women with opioid use disorder (OUD). Single County Authorities are not eligible to apply under this funding announcement. Applications are due by September 12, 2019 at 5:00 pm.

SUMMARY: DDAP is accepting applications for providers who will provide pregnancy support services or make referrals to address the needs of pregnant and postpartum women with OUD. In addition, these community providers will facilitate or make referrals for outpatient Medication-Assisted Treatment.

Questions can be submitted via email through August 30, 2019. Questions and answers will be posted to the Funding Opportunities page by September 6, 2019.

The Office of Mental Health And Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) is providing this guidance as an update to the definition of the Adult Priority Group for planning and service development for adults with serious mental illness (SMI). This definition of SMI, required by the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA) Reorganization Act of 1992, is to be used by states in planning and providing services under the CMHS Block Grant Program. States are permitted to establish priorities within the scope of this definition. Accordingly, OMHSAS has identified, within the federal definition, an Adult Priority Group, for which comprehensive community mental health services should be available. The Adult Priority Group, as defined in this bulletin, should be considered when determining mental health service needs and in the development of the county mental health plan. This obsoletes previous bulletin: OMH-94-04 Serious Mental Illness: Adult Priority Group. Contact the OMHSAS office with questions.

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The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) released a policy bulletin ensuring that treatment services continue during a grievance. The bulletin states that in the event an individual grieves a treatment funding decision related to a reduction or termination of services or length of stay in treatment, the SCA is required to continue funding treatment services at the current level of engagement until the appeal is resolved. This applies to all treatment services, including the provision of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).

All SCAs will include this updated requirement in their grievance and appeal policy and process, inform individuals of and have them sign-off on having received notification of the policy and process. SCAs must also inform contracted treatment providers of this change in requirements, effective immediately. Contact DDAP with any questions.

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(from Governor Tom Wolf official website, August 1, 2019)

Pennsylvania Opioid Update: Overdose Deaths Down, Upcoming Free Naloxone Distribution, Help for Families and Practitioners

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and health agency secretaries [today] announced a decrease in opioid drug overdose deaths from 2017 to 2018 and provided an update on efforts moving forward, including tuition and loan financial assistance for substance use disorder medical practitioners, a new hotline to help grandparents and other guardians access resources, and upcoming free naloxone distribution days on Sept. 18 and 25.

“Today, I’m proud to announce that data recently released by the Drug Enforcement Agency shows the number of overdose deaths in Pennsylvania was 18 percent lower in 2018 than in 2017,” Gov. Wolf said. “This is a good piece of news in our ongoing fight; however, new challenges, including the increase of overdoses from other drugs in the past few weeks and months, mean that our work must continue to address the devastating effects of substance use disorder.

“We remain laser-focused and committed to continuing to address substance use disorder in the commonwealth.”

In addition to Gov. Wolf, Health Sec. Dr. Rachel Levine, Human Services Sec. Teresa Miller, Aging Sec. Robert Torres, and Drug and Alcohol Programs Sec. Jennifer Smith provided announcements and updates… (to view the Governor’s full release, use this link).

The FY20-21 Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (CMHSBG) is now available for public comment. The CMHSBG is federal block grant funding to assist states in providing community-based services to adults with Serious Mental Illness and children with Severe Emotional Disturbance. This application provides a review of the current strengths and needs in the Pennsylvania Mental Health System, plans priority areas for improvement, and was developed in consultation with the Pennsylvania Mental Health Planning Council.

The CMHSBG outlines four target criteria that set forth the strategy for service planning and implementation:

  • Criterion 1: Comprehensive Community-Based Mental Health Service System;
  • Criterion 2: Mental Health System Data Epidemiology;
  • Criterion 3: Children’s Services; and
  • Criterion 4: Targeted Services to Rural and Homeless Populations and Older Adults.

Public comments will be accepted on this application through August 2, 2019, and we request your comments also be forwarded to your RCPA policy director.

Any comments or questions regarding this application can be sent to Kayla Sheffer or call 717-705-8167.