Mental Health

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.

Speaker at Business Conference and Presentation. Audience at the conference hall.

Registration for the 12th Annual Pennsylvania Autism Training Conference (PATC), Thursday and Friday, September 5-6 in Lancaster, PA is now open. PATC is an excellent training and networking opportunity for supports coordinators, employment service providers, job coaches, direct support professionals, residential service workers, community support providers, and any other professional who supports individuals with autism of all ages.

PATC gives providers a chance to learn about important topics like autism and the justice system, engage with experts at a mentoring breakfast, earn continuing education and training credits, and enjoy an evening networking reception with other providers across Pennsylvania. Please see the attached flyer for more information.

Can’t attend in person? Don’t worry! Check out the ASERT Facebook Page to view live interviews with presenters!

Contact RCPA Children’s Division Director Jim Sharp with questions.


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The National Council for Behavioral Health’s Medical Director Institute has produced a study on Mass Violence in America. While the study shows a modest link between mental illness and violence, there is no basis for the public’s generalized fear of people with mental illness. Having a psychiatric diagnosis is neither necessary, nor sufficient as a risk factor for committing an act of mass violence. For that reason, the group’s report has a broad range of considerations and recommendations beyond the subset of all mass violence with a link to mental illness. Questions, please contact Jack Phillips.

Today, the 55 Pa. Code Chapter 1155, Intensive Behavioral Health Services and the 55 Pa. Code Chapter 5240, Intensive Behavioral Health Services were unanimously approved by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).  These regulations are the result of an OMHSAS and stakeholder partnership that included a 75-person statewide work group that began in May of 2016.

During testimony, Acting Deputy Secretary Val Vicari, provided an overview of the process, as well as addressing the need for revisions to the regulatory reform language around staffing qualifications for individual services, ABA, and group services ensuring fidelity to each specific treatment modality. Additionally, areas of supervision were included in the Deputy Secretary’s comments that adjustments to the operational language will need to be consistent across the regulations.

Several attendees provided testimony on the record, including Jim Sharp, RCPA Children’s Division director. While RCPA supports the broad scope of the IBHS regulations, their noted concerns regarding the preservation of Individual Services delivery standards, operationalizing staff supervision activities, and the creation of a program sustaining fiscal rate infrastructure model were all addressed in the OMHSAS position to advance the approval of the regulations.

RCPA congratulates the Department of Human Services (DHS); OHMSAS Acting Deputy Secretary Val Vicari, as well as Children’s Bureau Director Scott Talley and team. We would also like to express our gratitude to the RCPA IBHS work group and Children’s Division Steering Committee for their dedicated efforts during this process and their integral thoughts in preparing for the IRRC IBHS hearing this week.

The RPCA Children’s Steering Committee will continue to monitor the progress of the IBHS regulations as they move to the Office of the Attorney General.

RCPA will send the final regulations out as soon as they are approved by the Office of the Attorney General and published by DHS.

Contact Jim Sharp, RCPA Children’s Division Director, with questions.

Governor Wolf signed the FY 19/20 budget at the end of June, which includes $2.5 million for the Parent Pathways initiative, led by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Education (PDE).

The departments are in the process of developing a competitive Request for Applications (RFA) to award Parent Pathway models. They are continuing to receive input on the initiative and explore options for distributing the $2.5M implementation funding. As previously shared, they plan to award grant funding in two phases for Parent Pathway models – first, for technical assistance for model planning and development, and second, implementation funding.

Parent Pathways seeks to establish community-specific comprehensive models to support access to, and success in, post-secondary education and training for single parents. Specifically, the departments propose to invest in holistic models that address the needs of parents and children together, and successfully leverage partnerships to offer sustainable post-secondary education solutions to the multiple barriers often facing families experiencing economic challenges.

The departments recognize that in order for Parent Pathways models to be successful, the awards should allow flexibility for communities to best meet the needs of potential participants in these programs. Stakeholders are asked to complete this survey by Friday, August 16, to help inform the development of this RFA.

Please visit this website for updates on the initiative and various resources available to assist you in community engagement and development.

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.

The Self-Determination Housing Project of Pennsylvania is hosting a webinar; “811 Project Rental Assistance Overview” on Monday, August 19, 2019 at 10:00 am. The webinar will cover program eligibility, priority populations, how to become a stakeholder, and what the process looks like once someone is referred to an 811 unit. Please follow the link below to register for the webinar and feel free to share this information with colleagues and those in your network who would be interested in this topic.

Please register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. If you have any questions, please reach out to the 811 Team.