The Wolf Administration highlights differences in behavior in minority health and available resources


Harrisburg, PA – Today the Departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Human Services (DHS) hired officials from the Governor’s Advocacy and Reform Department, the Governor’s Advisory Commissions on Latino Affairs, Asia Pacific American Affairs, and LGBTQ Affairs Pennsylvania Legislature joined Black Caucus and community organizations to strengthen the Wolf Administration’s commitment to promoting trauma-informed and culturally literate mental health and substance use disorder services that meet the unique needs of historically marginalized populations and highlight available resources.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made the systemic effects of racism and bigotry absolutely clear, and how injustices that result from them can adversely affect the mental and physical health of those in historically marginalized groups – including racial and ethnic minorities and the LGTBQ community Said DHS Deputy Secretary Meg Snead. “I encourage anyone struggling with mental health problems to contact the Persevere PA Support and Referral Helpline at 1-855-284-2494. The helpline is staffed with professional caseworkers trained in trauma-informed and culturally competent care who can assess needs and provide appropriate references to community resources to children, adolescents, adults and special populations, including historically marginalized groups.

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

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

“The clash of the overdose epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic has further brought to light health inequalities for certain racial and ethnic groups across Pennsylvania,” said DDAP Secretary Jen Smith. “In our most recent funding round for Recovery Community Organizations, we included a language specifically designed to ensure that minorities have access to prevention, treatment and recovery services. As you heard today, the Wolf Administration is committed to ensuring that all Pennsylvanians regardless of race, ethnicity or background have equal access to life-saving resources. “

The PA Care Partnership builds and promotes equality and trust by engaging youth, carers, providers and systems that serve children and young adults based on the strengths and culture of each community to change the way youth, Families, governments and communities interact with one another. This is achieved through a care system that, in addition to treatment, also includes promoting mental health, prevention, early detection and early intervention to meet the needs of all children, adolescents and young adults.

“The past year and a half have challenged many of us during this period of COVID-19. As a result, individuals and families have felt isolated and unsure of what the future holds. There is help, however, as Pennsylvania has a wide range of services and supports, with dedicated staff working continuously to raise their trauma awareness and focus on the cultural needs of our children and families, ”said Mark Durgin, director of PA CARE partnership. “To find services in your community, you should contact your county mental health department.”

PA Care Partnership hosts a series of webinars focused on adolescents and young adults from birth to 21 years of age and their families, systems and providers aligned with the values ​​of the Systems of Care: youth and family oriented, strength-based and individualized, trauma-informed and culturally and linguistically competent. This month, the series includes several Minority Mental Health Month webinars available online.

“I welcomed the opportunity to speak about mental health issues in colored and marginalized communities to help shed light on the grave place we are in regarding the need for help and the current lack of resources and awareness.” said Andrea Fields, executive director of the PA Legislative Black Caucus. “We are in a crisis and must do everything in our power to give people the help they need, both through resources and legislation, and by educating people about the inequalities within the health and psychiatric health structure. “

“We have seen an increase in mental health problems in Hispanic / Latin communities during the pandemic, and as a result, Latinx communities are at greater risk due to the stress of being discriminated against while trying to navigate services with language barriers . Our aim is to continue to educate and raise awareness of these minority communities about social services and to aggressively address the social determinants of the health of our most vulnerable populations, ”said Luz Colon, Executive Director of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Latino Affairs. “I applaud DHS and DDAP for coming together to address mental health issues in minority communities. We are committed to taking all necessary steps to provide services to those who need them most. “

“Minority Mental Health Month helps raise awareness of the issue, and we hope that more people in our minority communities will become aware of not only the resources and services that are available to them, but also that members of our communities understand that they are not alone, others face the same challenges, and it is okay to seek help, ”said Stephanie Sun, executive director of the Board of Governors for Asia Pacific Affairs. “I invite you all to join us and help your family, friends and neighbors. The mental health of one affects the many. We can’t do it alone, but together we can make a difference. “

Insist on PA support and referral helpline

Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to COVID-19 and the accompanying economic uncertainty can contact the Persevere PA Support & Referral Helpline toll-free 24 hours a day at 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600. The Center for Community Resources (CCR) staff are trained to be approachable, culturally competent, and qualified to help people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, co-occurring disorders, other special needs, or someone who just needs a supportive, empathetic one Looking for person who listens. Staff are trained in trauma-informed care to listen, assess needs, sort calls, and provide appropriate references to community resources for children, adolescents, adults, and special populations. Since launching in April 2020, the helpline has received nearly 25,000 calls.

Get help hotline now

Individuals seeking remedies for drug use treatment or recovery for themselves or a loved one can call the toll-free PA Get Help Now Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). This hotline is confidential, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is staffed by trained specialists with interpreting services in more than 200 languages. Callers can also be connected to funding if they need help paying for treatment. A live chat option is also available online or via text message at 717-216-0905 for those seeking help who may not be comfortable speaking to a hotline agent.

National lifeline for suicide prevention

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that offer people in suicidal or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week free and confidential emotional support in English and Spanish. A localized text option is also available through the Crisis Text Line, which provides free 24/7 support by texting “PA” to 741741. If you need help in Spanish, contact the Línea Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio at 1-888-628-9454.

Pennsylvania Guide to Mental Health

This online guide provides information about psychological screening, finding a psychologist, housing insecurity resources, assistance with trauma due to racism, and help with contacting your district offices and applying for benefits.

Public aid programs

DHS encourages Pennsylvanians struggling to meet basic needs to enroll in programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Cash Assistance, Medical Assistance, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), and Other programs to apply for time at For more information about Pennsylvanian aid programs, visit


Ali Gantz, DDAP, [email protected]

Erin James, DHS, [email protected]

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