Gov. Wolf Hosts Roundtable on New Initiative: Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters

January 03, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf today hosted a roundtable of Lehigh Valley mental health advocates and providers, legislators, and cabinet members to discuss the Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters initiative he announced yesterday and to hear from the group about specific needs related to access and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health care.

“It’s incredibly important to hear from the people on the front lines of mental wellness care,” Gov. Wolf said. “This roundtable – and more to follow – are just a part of increasing our efforts to be certain every Pennsylvanians in need of care receives it without barriers, without judgment and with the utmost of support and understanding.”

Joining the governor were U.S. Congresswoman Susan Wild, Pennsylvania Reps. Mike Schlossberg, Pete Schweyer, Jeanne McNeill, and Steve Samuelson; Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health; Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong; Jeremy Warmkessel of IAFF 302; Maggie Murphy, Executive Director of NAMI Lehigh Valley; Christy Dunbar; Thomas Parker, Superintendent, Allentown School District; Brenda DeRenzo, Director of Student Services, Parkland School District; Cari Cieszynski, AFSP Lehigh Valley; Dr. Thomas Whalen, Chief Medical Officer, Lehigh Valley Health Network; Jody McCloud-Missmer, St. Luke’s University Health Network, Behavioral Health Administrator; Janet Romero, Lehigh Valley VP of Operations, Step by Step; Dr. Hasshan Batts, Executive Director, Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley; Tim Silvestri, Director of Counseling Services, Muhlenberg College; and Mike Slack, CEO, KidsPeace.

The roundtable was convened with the help of Rep. Mike Schlossberg, who takes an active role in furthering the goal of increased access and reduced stigma to mental health care.

“If my own experience about talking about my own depression and anxiety challenges have taught me anything, it’s that these conversations matter deeply,” Rep. Schlossberg said. “They can better inform government officials about what we need to do to reform our behavioral health care system. More importantly, they can shape public conversations about mental health. The public has to realize that emotional challenges are every bit of deserving of our compassion, care and investment as physical ones, and I applaud the governor for leading this effort.”

Gov. Wolf’s Reach Out PA initiative is aimed at expanding resources and the state’s comprehensive support of mental health and related health care priorities in Pennsylvania. In the coming weeks, state agencies and legislators will announce additional roundtable discussions across the state aimed at gathering additional input on regional initiatives and needs.

“Thank you to all of the participants in today’s roundtable discussion,” Gov. Wolf said. “You input and honesty are invaluable to this effort to support all Pennsylvanians in their mental wellness journey.”

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