PA Senator Jay Costa Joins County and Healthcare Leaders at Teen Mental Health Advisory Meeting

Senator Jay Costa discusses teen mental health during advisory meeting at JHF.

Pennsylvania Senator Jay Costa was joined by Allegheny County healthcare officials and representatives of Pittsburgh region's healthcare community during the Teen Mental Health Advisory meeting on April 16 to discuss potential ways that collaboration could occur to support teen mental health.

Joining Costa were Jewel Denne, assistant deputy director of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services; Dr. Alin Severance, medical director of behavioral health services for the UPMC Health Plan; Sherry Shaffer, chief operating officer and chief government programs officer for Community Care Behavioral Health, and Donna Cooper, executive director of Children First. Each spoke to the barriers teens face when seeking support and possible avenues for collaboration, in terms of providing services and developing a workforce.

The meeting was grounded in what the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and its partners have learned about approaches to engage teens and families to promote mental health while involving a community-based workforce in response to these challenges.

Costa stressed the importance of building a statewide coalition and a plan to expand and amplify the reach of all the organizations at the meeting table, as well as many others in the region and the state. Meeting participants also discussed state-level funding opportunities, support for services, and community-based organizations, as well as the challenges of recruiting and retaining staff.

Advisory Committee Chair Danny Rosen thanked the speakers and added that Sen. Costa "sends us a tremendous message" about bringing voices to Harrisburg to advocate on behalf of those working for and with teens to advance care in mental health.

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