Northwestern Press

Tuesday, January 21, 2020
PRESS PHOTOS BY SARIT LASCHINSKYDr. Hasshan Batts, executive director of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley, wants social workers added to the staff of parole and probation officers to provide formerly incarcerated people with long-term support for mental wellness. Jeremy Warmkessel, (left) president of IAFF Local 302, and State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-22nd, (right) listen to the PRESS PHOTOS BY SARIT LASCHINSKYDr. Hasshan Batts, executive director of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley, wants social workers added to the staff of parole and probation officers to provide formerly incarcerated people with long-term support for mental wellness. Jeremy Warmkessel, (left) president of IAFF Local 302, and State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-22nd, (right) listen to the
Congresswoman Susan Wild, D-7th, and Dr. Rachel Levine, secretary of the state Department of Health, listen as panelists describe the scope of the problems facing mental health care access, specifically very long wait-lists for psychiatry appointments and a lack of proper reimbursement for social workers’ services. Congresswoman Susan Wild, D-7th, and Dr. Rachel Levine, secretary of the state Department of Health, listen as panelists describe the scope of the problems facing mental health care access, specifically very long wait-lists for psychiatry appointments and a lack of proper reimbursement for social workers’ services.
Maggie Murphy, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Lehigh Valley, highlights how a shortage of mental health providers, an aging population of psychiatrists and low reimbursement rates affect access to mental health care. At right, Brenda DeRenzo, director of student services for the Parkland School District listens. Maggie Murphy, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Lehigh Valley, highlights how a shortage of mental health providers, an aging population of psychiatrists and low reimbursement rates affect access to mental health care. At right, Brenda DeRenzo, director of student services for the Parkland School District listens.
Cari Cieszynski, of the Greater Lehigh Valley chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, speaks about the new federal suicide hotline number (988), noting while it is a good first step toward eliminating stigma, there are still serious problems with getting timely support to people in crisis. Cari Cieszynski, of the Greater Lehigh Valley chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, speaks about the new federal suicide hotline number (988), noting while it is a good first step toward eliminating stigma, there are still serious problems with getting timely support to people in crisis.

Another View

Friday, January 10, 2020 by The Press in Opinion

Seeking mental health care should not come with a stigma attached

Everyone, from time to time, experiences emotional ups and downs caused by events in his or her life or from more severe clinical mental health conditions.

Many individuals suffer in silence and do not seek help from mental health care professionals for fear of being judged by family, friends or co-workers.

Oprah recently discussed mental health issues with singer Lady Gaga during the first of several interviews in Oprah’s “2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus” cross-country tour.

Lady Gaga told Oprah on Jan. 4 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., she has struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder since being repeatedly raped at age 19.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf hosted a roundtable discussion Jan. 2 at Muhlenberg College to announce a new anti-stigma campaign and several initiatives aimed at expanding resources and the state’s comprehensive support for mental health and related health care.

Wolf was joined by U.S. Congresswoman Susan Wild, D-7th; state Reps. Mike Schlossberg, D-132nd; Pete Schweyer, D-22nd; Jeanne McNeill, D-133rd; and Steve Samuelson, D-135th; and Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong, among others.

“We are stepping up our efforts to ensure every Pennsylvanian can access mental health care and more agencies can respond to the challenges facing Pennsylvanians struggling with their mental health. The act of reaching out for help — or to help — can make a huge difference for someone struggling,” Wolf said in a related news release.

I applaud Oprah, Lady Gaga and Wolf and his team for discussing mental health issues and attempting to make changes to the ways individuals with mental health are treated.

For years, individuals with mental health conditions were locked away in psychiatric hospitals and not given the opportunity to be productive members of society.

Over the years, newer and newer medications and therapies have helped individuals control their mental health conditions.

Now is the time to remove the stigmas surrounding mental health issues and let individuals know it is OK to seek help from professionals.

As Gov. Wolf stated, “For those struggling with their mental health, we have one message: your mental health matters and it’s OK to reach out for help.”

Mental health conditions are nothing to be ashamed of and seeking help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.

Susan Bryant

editorial assistant

Parkland Press

Northwestern Press