Mental Health in Pennsylvania: Where Does it Rank?

Published On: March 16, 2017|Categories: News|
Mental Health in Pennsylvania Where Does it Rank

Mental health in Pennsylvania has improved, according to a new national study. The report, issued by Mental Health America, listed Pennsylvania in the number nine spot, up from number 15 in 2011.1

The overall ranking includes the occurrences of mental illness in both adults and youths and the amount and accessibility of care. States with higher rankings have fewer occurrences of mental illness and greater access to care. Lower rankings mean there are more people with mental illness and decreased access to care.

How Does Mental Health in Pennsylvania Compare to Other States?

The study reported that Pennsylvania was not too far from national average numbers:

  • 17.52 percent of adults in Pennsylvania have a form of mental illness. The national average is 18.29 percent.
  • 20.9 percent of Pennsylvanians seeking mental health treatment find it inaccessible or prohibitively difficult to obtain. The national average is 20.3 percent.

How Many People in the U.S. Need Mental Health Treatment?

One in five adults have a mental health condition, which is more than 40 million Americans overall.

Why Are Many People Not Getting Treatment?

Lack of accessibility to mental health care is typically due to:

  • A shortage of mental health providers
  • Inadequate or no insurance
  • Inability to pay for mental healthcare

Due to these factors, the study indicated that more than half of Pennsylvanians with mental illness didn’t receive the treatment they needed. Another reason why people didn’t receive care is that they never reached out for help, for a variety of reasons.

What About Access to Care in Pennsylvania?

Mental Health in Pennsylvania

State and local governmental policies have the greatest impact on access to mental health care. The improvement in Pennsylvania’s ranking can, in part, be traced to policy changes that support people suffering from mental health issues.

Pennsylvania is in the 12th spot regarding access to mental health care for adults and children, a four-spot improvement from 2011.1 Approximately 21 percent of all Pennsylvanians who seek treatment for a mental health issue don’t get the care needed.

What Are Pennsylvania’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Options?

Mental Health and Drug/Alcohol Services

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services administers assistance for mental health and drug and alcohol services.2 The agency offers two options: HealthChoices managed care and fee-for-service.

HealthChoices Managed Care

Mental health and drug and alcohol services are provided via the HealthChoices program. There is also a separate part to HealthChoices that deals with physical health. Regarding mental health and drug and alcohol services, each county in Pennsylvania has a contract with a Managed Care Organization.

Upon enrollment with the MCO, participants can choose who provides their services. The MCO provides a handbook outlining how to access services and what benefits are available.


People who are eligible for services under the fee-for-service program receive a list of behavioral health providers within their home county. Participants make an appointment with a provider, if the provider is accepting new clients. Local county caseworkers are ready to help anyone who has problems making an appointment.


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