[Skip to Content]
Register Now for the Annual Conference : August 4-7 in Gettysburg, Adams County!  2024 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Mental Health cannot be a “Counties vs Schools” Issue

News Date: Thursday, May 30, 2024

capitol
Mental health funding is not a game. There should never be a political chess match that pits schools vs counties when vying for appropriate levels of funding.
By CCAP Executive Director Lisa Schaefer and PSBA CEO Nathan Mains

There may be no bigger concern in Pennsylvania, and perhaps the country, than the lack of mental health services in our communities.  

Whether it’s children, teens, adults or the elderly, our residents are continuously struggling for the essential services they need to address their mental health issues.  
 
But for a holistic problem, we need a holistic solution. This is not something we can piecemeal together and then hope for the best.  

To appropriately and efficiently address the mental health crisis in Pennsylvania, we need a serious investment in the system across the board.  

A significant and consistent investment must be made to ensure schools and counties and community providers continue to work together to address mental health in Pennsylvania, so that the progress made over the past several years is not halted or hindered whether they are in the classroom or at home.  

PSBA’s annual State of Education report surveys school leaders asking them about the biggest challenges they’re facing. Over the last two years, school leaders have rated student mental health issues as the biggest overall challenge facing them whereas five years ago, student mental health issues did not crack the top 10 challenges. To try to get a sense of the scale of the problem, the upcoming 2024 State of Education report asked school leaders to estimate the percentage of their students with mental health needs. Nearly half of the survey respondents stated that 60% or more of their students have a mental health need.   
 
To ensure these efforts at the school level are not impeded after a student gets off the school bus, a significant investment must also be made to the county mental health base. If a child comes home and there are other issues in the home that lead to instability, that could potentially undo some of the progress that child made while in school. 

But with increased and annual investments into the state’s community-based mental health system counties could maintain and rebuild the existing safety net of services and effectively continue the work that the schools put in throughout the day.  
Likewise, schools can then continue the counties’ work when students leave their homes and enter the critical learning and social environment.  

With an “all-in” investment approach, counties, schools and community providers can cultivate a cycle of perpetual healing, rather than a cycle of temporary progression and regression.  
 
Mental health funding is not a game. There should never be a political chess match that pits schools vs counties when vying for appropriate levels of funding. Our residents need accessible and effective mental health services, and they need them now.