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House Committee Examines Mental Health Issues in Pennsylvania, DiGirolamo Says

HARRISBURG – To help lawmakers understand the challenges of mental health issues, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), chairman of the House Human Services Committee, today convened a public hearing to discuss public policy regarding those who suffer from mental illness. 

“I would like to thank all of the professionals and experts who joined us today to discuss the complexities of mental health,” said DiGirolamo. “Today’s hearing was meant to be an informative way to bring our committee up to speed on the challenges faced by those who both suffer from mental illness and those who work with these individuals in treatment and recovery.” 

Much of the testimony focused on eliminating the stigma that is associated with mental illness, and how that prevents individuals who need help from seeking it out. Experts also noted that in the majority of cases, people with mental illness can achieve full recovery, but they must first seek out help.  

In addition, those who offered testimony spoke about the overall goal of helping individuals who have received treatment becoming engaged in their lives and their community as the true meaning of “success” in recovery. The goal is making sure families and individuals are aware of the resources available. 

“Pennsylvania is considered to be the national model for mental health services and treatment; however, there is still so much more we can do in terms of outreach, education and prevention,” DiGirolamo said, noting that mental illness touches virtually every family in this Commonwealth, with one out of four individuals being affected at some point in a given year. 

Some testifiers also touched upon the national conversation occurring with respect those with mental illness and violent crime. In fact, studies show that people who suffer from mental illness are no more violent than the general public, and are far more likely to be victims of crime rather than the perpetrators. Additional services, such as early intervention, are needed to help teach families how to intervene and recognize the signs of mental illness so they can help get their loved ones into treatment. 

Other experts spoke to the need to reach out more to older adults, service members, veterans and their families in helping them seek out the resources specifically available to them. 

Among those offering testimony at today’s hearing were Dennis Marion, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Department of Public Welfare; Arthur C. Evans, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, Philadelphia; Christine Flowers, columnist; Seth Williams, district attorney, City of Philadelphia; James Jordan, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill; Jim MacMillen, Gun Crisis Reporting Project; Eric Larson and David Dan, Resources for Human Development; Joseph Rogers, Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania; Guy S. Diamond, Center for Family Intervention Science, University of Pennsylvania; Lloyd Wertz, Family Training and Advocacy Center for Serious Mental Illness; Mark Murphy, Disability Rights Network of PA; Andrew Clark, KidsPeace Children’s Hospital and Residential Services; Jon Evans, Safe Harbor Behavioral Health, Erie, and the Pennsylvania Community Providers Association; David Lewis, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic; and Lt. Col. Scott R. Snyder, Pennsylvania State Police. 

Representative Gene DiGirolamo
18th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact:  Jennifer Keaton
717.705.2094 /
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