2023 Salk Fellowship Focuses on Mental Health Policy in Pennsylvania

Salk Fellows convened virtually with Karen Feinstein describing the history of the fellowship and its approach.

Now is the time for desperately needed mental health reforms, as both President Joseph Biden and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro have voiced their commitment to mental health service expansion to meet the great demand. This fall's Salk Health Activist Fellowship is focused on equipping healthcare activists with effective skills and insights to advance key mental health policy issues in Pennsylvania.

The annual JHF Feinstein Fellowship kicked off on September 19 with Karen Wolk Feinstein, PhD, outlining JHF's approach to activist philanthropy, critical insights from her years of successful advocacy, and introducing the accomplished fellowship cohort to one another.

As is hallmark to all JHF's Feinstein Fellowships, the Salk Health Activist Fellowship features an interdisciplinary mix of 29 participants representing 18 different disciplines from 13 different universities.

At the second session on September 26, fellows had the opportunity to learn about the context of mental health in Pittsburgh from Dr. Kathi Elliot, CEO of Gwen's Girls, and Dr. Elizabeth Miller, Director of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine and Director of Community and Population Health at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. They discussed the most pressing mental health policy issues in the region, policies that could promote equity in mental health delivery, and effective strategies to establish a collaborative and inclusive environment when convening communities and partners in mental health advocacy.

Throughout this fall, the fellows will form interdisciplinary groups and develop an action plan to advance mental health policy priorities at the state level. Through additional sessions and instruction from leaders at Children First, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Steel Smiling, Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation, Community Care Behavioral Health, Carnegie Mellon University, PublicSource, and previous Salk Fellowship alumni, fellows will gain a deeper understanding of how to effectively communicate their concerns and policy priorities. The Salk Fellowship will conclude on November 14 with groups detailing their strategies for enacting policy change.
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