As the effects of COVID-19 worsen the mental health of those in our communities, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) is reiterating its previously announced top legislative priority for 2020, calling for a sustainable investment in mental health community base funding from the General Assembly and Wolf Administration.
Community-based mental health services—such as community residential programs, family-based support, outpatient care and crisis intervention—are critical to the well-being of residents. Funding levels for county mental health services have direct impacts on whether these important community and family supports will be available, including expanded services, beds and diversions.
Jeff Snyder, CCAP president and Clinton County commissioner, noted, “No one could have imagined at that time just how much more critical those community-based mental health services would become in just a few months. The suffering of those in need has been multiplied as their previously normal routine has been uprooted by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, more than ever, a sustainable investment is needed in mental health community base funding so that counties can continue to provide services to strengthen and secure the social services safety net.”
Even before the pandemic, counties’ abilities to meet service needs had been compromised by stagnant funding over the past decade, at the same time that mandates, service needs and demands continued to increase.
Snyder continued, “While we understand that the state will be considering its own budget implications from unexpected revenue shortfalls, we must remember that the state and counties are partners in effectively maintaining healthy, safe and resilient communities. As we emerge from our stay-at-home order and the initial grip of COVID-19, more than ever, our citizens need close collaboration between the legislature, the administration and counties to properly address the mental health system as a whole.”