Your action is needed. Our lawmakers need to hear directly from the people and families who depend on county-based mental health services. A sample letter that can be copied and customized is included below for your use. Please contact your State Senator or State Representative to ensure $28M for county-based mental health services is included in the FY 2021–22 budget.
Dear Representative/Senator [Last Name of State Representative/Senator]:
Without more robust funding and support in FY 2021–22 budget for county-based mental health services, we face a tsunami of unmet needs. As indicated by numerous legislatively-mandated studies in Pennsylvania, the county-based mental health system is in crisis.
County-based mental health services provide access to critical supports not covered by Medicaid, Medicare, and/or private insurance. These include residential programs, supportive housing, employment services, case management, and psychiatric rehabilitation. These key offerings help individuals receive the right services at the right time to maximize their chance of recovery. They also reduce more costly interventions (i.e. incarceration, emergency room visits, courts, and inpatient care).
Over the past decade, state funding for county-based mental health has remained flat. That level funding, coupled with the impact of annual inflation, is having a devastating impact on the ability of counties to sustain these services. The crisis is now compounded with new demands for mental health services related to the pandemic.
Our organization, [Organization Name], is a member of the Coalition for the Mental Health Safety Net, which has joined together from across the Commonwealth to speak in a single voice. In the next 6–12 months, 74% of county-based mental health administrators expect calls to increase, or they are anticipating delays of up to six weeks for services such as community residential services. Additionally, there has been a 17.2% increase in hospitalizations for mental health conditions since Fiscal Year 2012–13.
Thank you for supporting the additional $28M requested in this letter. Please contact me with any questions.
Contact Sarah Eyster if you have any questions.