April 2, 2016
By Jim Cawley Last week, Pennsylvania officially moved on from its historic nine-month budget impasse. Gov. Wolf's decision to let the latest budget offering become law brings an end to a long and painful time for the health and human services community and, most importantly, for those who rely on us for support. But it's difficult to feel any great sense of relief. As we head into negotiation season for the next budget, there are many lessons to learn from this chapter in our commonwealth's history.
January 19, 2016 |
For more than 150 years, Pennsylvania State University's departing senior class has given a gift to the university: a solar panel, a green roof, sculpture, signs, and scholarships. This year, seniors voted for a less visible project, yet one they hope will have a lasting impact. They will donate what could be as much as $250,000 for an endowment to support mental-health services at the university. Senior Ramon Guzman Jr., 20, a Central High graduate from Philadelphia who is executive director of the senior class gift campaign, wept when he learned the results of the vote.
October 13, 2015
PSYCHIATRISTS, psychologists, therapists, social workers and other mental health care practitioners, rejoice: It appears a lot of elected officials, including a remarkable number of conservatives, have your back. Since the shooting at Umpqua Community College that left 10 dead earlier this month, there has been a steady drumbeat of calls for better care for the mentally ill. For a moment, let's assume it's a genuine concern and not what doctors might describe as a defense mechanism - as in, "The National Rifle Association won't allow me to advocate for universal background checks on gun purchases, so what can I say to sound sympathetic after a mass shooting?"
December 7, 2014 |
There were many times during Khasiem Carr's tumultuous journey through Pennsylvania's mental health and prison systems when it seemed things couldn't get worse. Then, they generally did. For instance, after two months in solitary confinement at the Bucks County prison, Carr was refusing food and water, and was rushed to the hospital to be treated for dehydration and malnutrition. After more than a year in solitary, he entered a guilty plea in hope of getting out of the hole and into mental-health care in a state prison.
July 26, 2014 |
His mother sells empanadas from their home in Honduras. He shines shoes - $5 a day. Add to their woes the constant threats: Join or be killed by deadly gangs. Now, gap-toothed Kevin, 14, is atop a speeding Mexican train called "the Beast," aiming to cross the U.S. border illegally, to face new uncertainties amid the "big towers" and "great cities" he sees on TV. Officials say tens of thousands of children like him are fleeing Central America, primarily Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
June 22, 2014 |
Six months into the Affordable Care Act, local mental-health and substance-abuse professionals have yet to see an uptick in clients using their new benefits. The seeming lack of interest has been disappointing for caregivers, but is not completely unexpected. "It's very early," said Patricia Kleven, director of outpatient mental health services at the Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment. "I don't know what it will look like in six months or a year. But at the moment, not so much.
June 19, 2014 |
Marvae Dunn had no business being in prison. He is severely mentally ill. At age 64, he can barely speak or follow simple instructions. How could he stand trial on first-degree murder charges of shooting his sister-in-law? He never did, yet Dunn's home for seven years was a Philadelphia prison infirmary, until advocates intervened. He was transferred Monday to a state nursing home in Franklin County. "We're subsidizing failure," said his prison chaplain, Phyllis Taylor. The legal system failed Dunn and the taxpayers who bore the cost of his imprisonment.
February 24, 2014 |
Everyone has ups and downs, but there are times when parents may notice their college-age children are showing signs of real trouble and need a therapist. It might be as obvious as a drop in school performance, or as subtle as a sudden and consistent mood change. But unlike a physical ailment, in which parents could consult a doctor, mental health issues often carry a stigma, and parents may be reluctant to send an overstressed or depressed child to a therapist. They may not know where to look for one. Or money may be an issue.
August 2, 2013 |
Philadelphia children on Medical Assistance are waiting twice as long as they are supposed to for behavioral-health appointments, according to a report released Thursday by Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY). The youth-advocacy organization surveyed nearly 60 agencies that provide mental-health services to children on Medical Assistance, the state health insurance program for low-income people. It found that the average wait for an initial appointment was 15 days. The report said the agencies' contract with Community Behavioral Health, which administers mental-health services for the city, required agencies to make such appointments within seven days.
May 27, 2013 |
HARRISBURG - A number of Pennsylvania state legislators are opposing a Department of Corrections plan to outsource mental health services at 27 state prisons, saying it could put prison workers and communities at risk. The state could contract out as many as 187 positions now filled by Department of Corrections employees to save money and improve services, according to corrections spokeswoman Susan McNaughton. The positions include licensed psychologist managers, licensed psychologists, and psychological services specialists.