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County Mental Health Services Glossed Over Once Again

News Date: Tuesday, February 6, 2024

State Capitol
Counties can no longer sit by and watch costs increase, demand for services skyrocket and workforces dwindle while the funding continues to fall massively short.
In response to Governor Shapiro’s budget address on Tuesday, Pennsylvania counties have serious concerns regarding one of their key priorities, attempting to properly fund the county mental health base. 

Last year, the county mental health base fund saw its first increase in over a decade. That $20 million dollar increase was seen as a down payment and a move of good faith by the state to take bigger steps in 2024. However, the governor, on Tuesday, called for an increase to the county mental health base fund of just $20 million dollars once again.  

We are far past the time for down payments. The county mental health system has been on the brink of collapse for years, and counties are scrambling to keep essential programs such as counseling, behavioral health services and outpatient care operating and adequately staffed.  

Counties are deeply disappointed in this proposed increase, as it fails to address the significant system-wide need counties have long dealt with. Because of this increasing need, counties requested an increase of $250 million over the current county mental health base line.    

Without a serious investment, these programs, and therefore our residents, many of which are uninsured or underinsured, will continue to struggle. We are risking real life consequences; we are risking forcing residents into unacceptable wait times or unreasonable travel lengths to receive these critical services. 

The Governor also proposed additional funding to schools for student mental health. In order to make sure we are reaching all individuals and fully meeting their needs, we must make meaningful, comprehensive and coordinated investments. This means investments in the system holistically, not further breaking the system down into silos. We should not take a “county vs. schools" approach to how we make investments. 

The minimal increase for county mental health services fails to provide a long-term commitment to appropriately rebuild the crumbling mental health system and shore up the social services safety net, providing a comprehensive system that is accessible for all Pennsylvanians.    

Counties can no longer sit by and watch costs increase, demand for services skyrocket and workforces dwindle while mental health funding continues to fall massively short.  

Pennsylvania counties strongly urge the governor and members of the general assembly to engage county leaders to discuss sufficient mental health funding support in the 2024-2025 state budget. Our residents cannot wait any longer.