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Letter from the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

With the end of Mental Health Month nearing, MHAPA thought now a good time to look at positive trends in behavioral health care. We've dedicated this issue to celebrating impact: the impact Pennsylvania's behavioral health HealthChoices program has on individuals and the delivery of mental health and addiction services, and the impact of ending institutionalized mental health care in favor of that which is community-based and self-directed.  

We specifically look at Allegheny County, a model for the management of behavioral health care services. In 2010, Allegheny HealthChoices, Inc. (AHCI), an independent non-profit agency that oversees the Allegheny County's behavioral health HealthChoices program, completed a report that looks at the impact and outcomes of the county’s program since it began in 1999. This issue of the Newsfeed shares some of the findings of this study as an illustration of what's possible for consumers when public and private agencies work together to better manage resources and spending. 

For a broader view of the impact of the state's behavioral health HealthChoices program, download a presentation developed by the newly formed Coalition to Preserve Behavioral Health Choices, of which MHAPA is a member. It offers an overview of the program’s achievements since 1997, when initiated by Governor Ridge.

On the subject of achievements, I also invite you to take a look at OMHSAS' 2010 Supporting the Journey: Transforming Pennsylvania's Behavioral Health System, which describes how Pennsylvania's behavioral health system has become increasingly more responsive to the needs of consumers, families, and communities. 

Finally, I encourage you to read and share with others the profile of James, who spent spent 14 months institutionalized in Mayview State Hospital. When the hospital closed in 2008, James was discharged into the community. Today, community-based programs provide the support he needs. He proudly shares his recovery experience with us. We ask you — mental health consumers, advocates, service providers, and supporters — to take inspiration from James and tell your story. Join our Facebook page and tell us how the behavioral health "carve-out" has made a difference to you or your loved ones? Either in Western Pennsylvania or elsewhere. Thank you!


Sue Walther
Executive Director


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