Wolf administration highlights behavioral health disparities among minority populations and available resources



Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – Today, the Departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Social Services (DHS) joined officials of the Governor’s Office for Advocacy and Reform, the Governor’s Advisory Commissions on Latin American Affairs, Asian and American affairs, and LGBTQ affairs, Black Caucus and community organizations to strengthen the Wolf Administration’s commitment to promote trauma-informed and culturally competent mental health and addiction services that respond the distinct needs of historically marginalized populations and highlight the resources available.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown the systemic impact of racism and bigotry, and how the resulting inequalities can adversely affect the mental and physical health of individuals within historically marginalized groups – including racial minorities and ethnicities and the LGTBQ community, ”DHS said. Acting Secretary Meg Snead. “I encourage anyone struggling with mental health issues to contact the Persevere PA Referral and Helpline at 1-855-284-2494. The helpline is comprised of professional social workers trained in trauma-informed and culturally competent care who can assess needs and provide an appropriate referral to community resources for children, adolescents, adults and special populations, including groups. historically marginalized.

While studies have shown that the pandemic has exacerbated inequalities, these inequalities existed before COVID-19. DHS identified health equity as a top priority of its ongoing work on racial equity in a report released earlier this year, and that includes a focus on mental health services.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preliminary overdose data shows a 16% increase in overdose deaths in Pennsylvania from 2019 to 2020. More than half of those deaths have occurred in Philadelphia, where overdoses among black people have increased by more than 50% during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.

“The collision of the overdose epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted health inequalities for particular racial and ethnic populations across Pennsylvania,” said DDAP Secretary Jen Smith . “In our latest round of grants to community recovery organizations, we have included language specifically related to ensuring that minority populations have access to prevention, treatment and recovery services. As you have heard today, the Wolf administration is committed to ensuring that, regardless of your race, ethnicity or origin, all Pennsylvanians have equal access to vital resources. “

The PA Care Partnership builds and promotes equality and trust by including youth, caregivers, providers and systems that serve children and young adults based on the strengths and culture of each community to change the way youth, families, government and communities interact with each other. This is achieved through a system of care model that integrates mental health promotion, prevention, early detection and early intervention in addition to treatment to meet the needs of all children, adolescents and young adults.

“The past year and a half has challenged many of us in this time of COVID-19. As a result, individuals and families have felt isolated and unsure of what the future holds. However, help is available as Pennsylvania has a wide range of services and supports, with dedicated staff, who continually work to increase their awareness of trauma and focus on the cultural needs of our children and children. diverse needs of our families, ”said Mark Durgin, Director of PA CARE Partnership. “To find services in your community, consider contacting your county mental health office. “

PA Care Partnership is hosting a series of webinars focused on youth and young adults from birth to 21 years old and their families, systems and providers aligned with the care system’s values ​​of being youth and family-centered, based on strengths and individualized, trauma-aware, and culturally and linguistically competent. This month, the series includes several webinars on Minority Mental Health Month available online.

“I appreciated the opportunity to speak about mental health issues in communities of color and within marginalized groups to help shed light on the dire situation we find ourselves in, in terms of the need to help and current lack of resources and awareness. said Andrea Fields, executive director of the PA’s Legislative Black Caucus. “We are in crisis proportions and we must do all we can in the legislature to give people the help they need, both through resources and through laws, but also through educating people. on inequalities within the structure of health care and mental health care. ”

“We have seen an increase in mental health issues during the pandemic in Hispanic / Latin communities and as a result Latin communities are at higher risk due to the stress of facing discrimination while trying to navigate. services with language barriers. Our goal is to continue to educate and raise awareness of social services to these minority communities and to aggressively address the social determinants of health for our most vulnerable populations, ”said Luz Colon, Executive Director of the Advisory Commission of the governor on Latin American affairs. “I applaud DHS and DDAP for coming together to address mental health issues in minority communities. We are committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to provide service to those who need it most. “

“Minority Mental Health Month is helping to bring attention to the issue, and we hope that more people in our minority communities will not only be aware of the resources and services available to them, but also that members of our communities will understand that they are not alone, there are others facing the same challenges, and it is okay to seek help, ”said Stephanie Sun, executive director of the Governor’s Commission on Business Asia-Pacific. “I invite you all to join us in helping your family, friends and neighbors. The mental health of one affects the greatest number. We can’t do it alone, but together we can make a difference. “

Persevere PA Support and Referral Hotline

Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety and other difficult emotions as a result of COVID-19 and the economic insecurity that accompanies it can contact the Persevere PA Support & Referral hotline toll-free, 24/7 / 7 at 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600. Community Resource Center (CCR) staff are trained to be accessible, culturally competent, and qualified to assist people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, concurrent disorders, other special needs, or caregivers. looking for a supportive and empathetic person to listen to. Staff are trained in trauma-informed care to listen, assess needs, triage calls, and provide an appropriate referral to community resources for children, adolescents, adults and special populations. Since its launch in April 2020, the helpline has received nearly 25,000 calls.

Get help now

Individuals seeking substance abuse treatment or recovery resources for themselves or a loved one can call the free PA Get Help Now helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). This helpline is confidential, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and made up of qualified professionals with interpretation services available in more than 200 languages. Appellants may also be eligible for funding if they need help paying for their treatment. A live chat option is also available online or via text message to 717-216-0905 for those looking for help and who might not be comfortable talking to a helpline operator.

National lifeline for suicide prevention

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provide free, confidential emotional support, in English and Spanish, to people in suicidal crisis or in emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Localized text is also available through the Crisis Text Line, offering free 24/7 assistance by sending “PA” to 741741. For help in Spanish, contact the Línea Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio on 1 -888-628-9454.

Guide to mental health in Pennsylvania

This online guide contains information on mental health screenings, finding a mental health professional, housing insecurity resources, racism trauma help, and contacting help. help desks in your county and apply for benefits.

Public aid programs

DHS encourages Pennsylvanians who are struggling to meet their basic needs to apply for programs such as Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), Cash Aid, Medical Assistance, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and others at www.compass.state.pa.us. For more information on the assistance programs available to help Pennsylvanians, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.


Ali Gantz, DDAP, [email protected]

Erin James, DHS, [email protected]

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