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.

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The 2022 Dennis Marion Impact Award nomination period is now open! This award recognizes local and state government employees whose initiatives, processes, and projects have led to significant improvements in Pennsylvania’s behavioral health service delivery system. You can find more information regarding the award at the Department of Human Services’ website, and the nomination form is available here.

The nomination period is from December 21, 2021, to February 11, 2022. Completed nominations must be submitted electronically by 5:00 pm EST on February 11, 2022. No nominations will be accepted after the nomination period. Please note that individuals may not self-nominate.

The award will be presented at Pennsylvania’s May 2022 Mental Health Awareness Month event in Harrisburg, PA. Questions regarding this award may be directed to Cindy Gebhard, Executive Secretary of OMHSAS.

Leading in 2021: Hoping, Healing, Helping — Don’t Miss Prize Giveaways on October 29 at 11:00am on the Showcare Platform

Thank you for joining us virtually in September! We hope you enjoyed the experience.

But it’s not over yet — catch the vendors in Connections Hall that you may have missed and earn game points while you visit! Don’t miss out on earning as many points as possible before the deadline!

You can also continue to view sessions you didn’t get a chance to see or review sessions that you really enjoyed. You are able to watch each session as many times as you wish, and all documents are accessible on the sessions’ main pages. To view the sessions, log in to your account, then either:

  • Visit the “Full Schedule” page on the left-hand menu. Find the session you wish to view, select the time slot, then click on the title of the session. You will be taken to the session’s main page.
  • Visit the “On Demand” page for a list of previously prerecorded sessions. Simply select the session tile, which will take you to the session’s main page.

Game prizes will be given out via Zoom on October 29 at 11:00am to the top ten participants on the Games Leaderboard. In addition, some special prizes for attendees logged in to the closing session will be distributed. Be sure to keep an eye on your inbox, as we will be sending invitations next week!

Lastly, as a reminder, please be sure to send in your request for continuing education or certificates of attendance by November 1 to RCPA.

Thank you once again!

Thank you for joining us virtually last week! We hope you enjoyed the experience.

But it’s not over yet — catch the vendors in Connections Hall that you may have missed and earn game points while you visit! View or review sessions that you didn’t get to see or that you really enjoyed!

Game prizes will be given out via Zoom on October 29 at 12:00pm to the top ten participants on the Games Leaderboard. Don’t miss out on earning as many points as possible before the deadline!

Also, as a reminder, please be sure to send in your request for continuing education or certificates of attendance by November 1 to RCPA.

Thank you once again!

The RCPA-MDCBH-A.N.D 2021 Conference is upon us, and we want to give you as much information as possible so you can get the most out of this year’s experience!

  1. It is important to know that this platform itself is not an app. While you will use the Zoom app for the sessions themselves, you will want to experience the platform and the Zoom app on your computer or tablet, rather than your mobile phone, for the optimal user experience.
  2. An Attendee FAQ is now available. Throughout the Conference, you will be able to view it on the left-hand control panel of Showcare, our virtual platform, as well as on the RCPA Conference website home page.
  3. The home lobby page will have a video feature where you can hear from our returning Emcee, Valerie Bittner, throughout each day. We encourage you to do this, as she will have regular updates and messages.
  4. In the upper left-hand corner you will see three bars – clicking on this will expand the side menu, allowing you to see the full scope of opportunities available on the virtual platform. You can also simply click on icons in the middle of the home lobby for more information about Connections Hall, educational sessions, and networking.
  5. Once sessions are decided, you can click to save them in your calendar, thus creating your own schedule. This is not required of attendees but may help you coordinate your time throughout the week.
  6. Gamification is here, with games, points, and prizes! You can use the left-hand control panel to click on the Games Rules Icon and learn how to earn points and win prizes! There is also a Game Leaderboard available to view at any time.
  7. Continuing Education (CE) paperwork can be found on the CE link on the left-hand control panel – be sure to download this material if you are planning to purchase CE credits or you would like a certificate of attendance.
  8. The Conference overall evaluation is located near the top, right-hand side of the home lobby. This is very important to future events, and we ask that you please take the time to complete the evaluation.

Thank you again for your participation. Please contact Sarah Eyster with any questions.

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Image by David Mark from Pixabay

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded $15 million in planning grants to 20 states to support expanding community-based mobile crisis intervention services for Medicaid beneficiaries. By connecting people who are experiencing a mental health or substance use disorder crisis to a behavioral health specialist or critical treatment, these services — which will be provided by funding from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and will be available 24 hours per day, every day of the year — can help save lives. Importantly, these services can also help to reduce the reliance on law enforcement when people are experiencing a behavioral health crisis and, in turn, may help to prevent the unnecessary incarceration of people with serious mental illness or substance use disorders.

The planning grants — funded by the ARP — provide financial resources for state Medicaid agencies to assess community needs and develop programs to bring crisis intervention services directly to individuals who are experiencing a substance use-related or mental health crisis outside a hospital or facility setting. These grants will help states integrate community-based mobile crisis intervention services into their Medicaid programs, a critical component of establishing a sustainable and public health-focused crisis support network.

“The pandemic has taken a serious toll on the mental health of Americans, especially in underserved communities,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Through these awards, the Biden-Harris Administration is making a bold investment to highlight the importance of behavioral health and ensure states can provide vital services to those hardest hit by the pandemic. This funding from the American Rescue Plan will expand access to crisis care for everyone — and reach people where they are.”

“With these grants, CMS is taking strides to connect individuals in crisis with the high-quality, expert care they need. Providing behavioral health care experts as alternatives to police is an example of how we can better help communities deliver on the behavioral health needs of all its residents,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.

The planning grants provide funding to develop, prepare for, and implement qualifying community-based mobile crisis intervention services under the Medicaid program. Grant funds can be used to support states’ assessments of their current services; strengthen capacity and information systems; ensure that services can be accessed 24 hours a day, every day of the year; provide behavioral health care training for multi-disciplinary teams; or seek technical assistance to develop State Plan Amendments (SPAs), demonstration applications, and waiver program requests under the Medicaid program.

On April 1, 2022, thanks to the ARP, all states will be eligible for a temporarily enhanced matching rate for implementing a qualified community-based mobile crisis intervention option in their Medicaid programs. The period of performance for this grant will be from September 30, 2021, through September 29, 2022.

View the list of CMS Award Recipients.


Get CMS news, sign up for CMS news via email and follow CMS on Twitter @CMSgov

Each year, the Conference Planning Committee and staff work to develop new and different ways to enhance the conference experience. This year, our virtual platform partner Showcare will offer exciting opportunities for attendees to be able to connect with one another. Using your profile, you can choose interest areas, “ping” a colleague you haven’t seen in a while, and directly connect with exhibitors based on your business needs.

Next, in addition to traditional education offerings, we are pleased to include several “thought leader” sessions that will be live and recorded to briefly hear about health care initiatives. These sessions are anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes.

Finally, even though we cannot be together in person, we hope that you will stick around Wednesday and Thursday during the late afternoon hours for some fun, informal networking. Grab your favorite drink and snack and hang out with the public group, or create a breakout room and privately connect with friends.

Don’t miss out – register here!

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

As you participate in our 2021 Conference Leading in 2021, be sure to hear from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Meg Snead, Maryland Deputy Secretary of Behavioral Health Dr. Aliya Jones, and a Delaware state leader who is TBD, in a session moderated by Chuck Ingoglia of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. This will be held on Tuesday, September 28, at 4:30 pm. The state leaders will discuss statewide initiatives, federal policy implications, and the impact on providers and service provision as we navigate through the phases of the pandemic.

If you haven’t already, be sure to register! For individual registration, please visit here. If registering for a group, please visit here. Please note that all presenters will be registered by RCPA. Our early bird registration has been extended until Friday, September 10, 2021.