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BHLC of PA Serves as National Model

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

The BHLC of PA congratulates Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine, M.D., for her nomination as U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services assistant secretary. During her tenure in Pennsylvania, we established the BHLC to support the Student Assistance Program, a state-wide, school-based mental health screening and assessment program. Based at Drexel University, the BHLC supports providers across the state in the identification and referral of youth in schools who might need mental health services.

Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and suicide ideation have dramatically increased among youth during COVID. Behavioral health programming can be improved in every state with a BHLC by creating shared resources, procedures, and vision about health care coordination.

Through multiple collaborations and grants, a network of stakeholders from emergency departments, schools, primary care practices, community-based organizations, behavioral health clinics, families and individuals can come to learn and support one another.

"We have screened over 100,000 youth in Pennsylvania and identified over 4,600 people with suicide ideation since we started using this model,"said Guy Diamond, Ph.D., director, Center for Family Intervention Science at Drexel University and BHLC co-director along with Tita Atte, M.P.H., C.P.H. "This network has helped disseminate best practices and high-quality research that has greatly benefited Pennsylvania, and could be a resource in all 50 states."

BHLC participants all share the same web-based behavioral health screening system which standarizes data across the state. It offers evidence-based and validated comprehensive screening, tracking, and outcomes measurement. The program also serves as a learning community to help overcome challenges in this time of COVID (e.g. moving to telehealth). The BHLC model is expanding to California, Kansas and Michigan thus serving as a national model for improving quality and coordination of mental health services.

Nick Jaskiw, Michigan Association of School Psychologists president said, "We see such potential in the BHLC model in identifying students at risk, in saving young lives, and in developing a community of practice that will help change the mental health culture of Michigan. Our state is currently working to launch the BHLC of Michigan in just a few months.

Dr. Diamond concluded, "I congratulate Dr. Levine on her nomination and hope we can assist her in her mission to improve health care across the nation."

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