State official seeks changes for mental health delegates in Pa.

    An official with the Department of Public Welfare is pushing for a statewide assessment of how mental health services are delivered in Pennsylvania.

    According to state police, there are 36,000 instances a year in which a mentally ill person is involuntarily sent for hospitalization and treatment.

    Dennis Marion, with the Department of Public Welfare, says the state needs to be more proactive about treating mental illness to reduce the emergency situations that lead to some of those commitments.

    Part of that, Marion says, has to do with changing the qualifications of county-based mental health delegates — they are the people who can decide to commit someone for hospitalization.

    “Whether it be families, or individuals served by the system, or county representatives, crisis representatives, that there is room for us to step forward and try to standardize the minimum training and experience required,” Marion says.

    He says he thinks delegates are hired based on skills.

    But, he says, counties should cooperate to develop standard qualifications and better define the guidelines for committing a mentally ill person for treatment.

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