The Annapolis Coalition on the Behavioral Health Workforce presented an Innovation Award to the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Leadership Council (PPLC) and its parent company, the Philadelphia Mental Health Care Corporation (PMHCC) in January 2023. The PPLC was recognized for its innovative efforts to support community mental health in Pennsylvania by creating an infrastructure to increase the number of psychiatrists and to educate and support other behavioral health practitioners with a dedication to the public behavioral health system. The organization’s efforts have had a direct impact on the size and quality of the workforce.
Created in 2005, the PPLC is a voluntary collective of psychiatrists, consumers, families, advocates, administrators, payers, and providers. Its goals are to increase the number of well-trained psychiatrists providing public psychiatric care in Pennsylvania and to advance the quality of those services, ultimately improving the mental health of the people of the Commonwealth.
In its nearly 20 years of operations, the PPLC has introduced and maintained a number of programs and initiatives to supports its goals, including:
- Leveraging Medicaid funds and other resources for academically based Centers of Excellence (COEs) in Public Psychiatry in Pennsylvania for a one-year community psychiatry fellowship program. Since the establishment of the COEs, 80 psychiatrists have graduated from the public psychiatry Fellowship, with 75% remaining to work in Pennsylvania. The Psychiatric Fellowship program has expanded to include other disciplines such as Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners.
- Developing a guide and educational webinar designed to help recruit and retain psychiatrists who are interested in community-oriented, public-sector practice. (link to old Annapolis e-news article).
- Partnering with community-based organizations to ensure spirituality and religion are part of their training (Spiritual First AID); and a Visible Hands Collaborative that introduces Integrative Community Therapy and the power of the community to heal.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PPLC has also worked to improve mental health support for providers, while also addressing the need for diversity, equity and inclusion in the behavioral healthcare workforce in Pennsylvania.
- In 2020, PPLC launched weekly provider support groups that offered ongoing support for practitioners, many of whom were serving the highest risk populations in Pennsylvania’s nursing homes, prisons, large urban areas, immigration and other public health sites during the pandemic. Weekly meetings were open not only to providers but also to their non-clinical staff. In addition to supporting these behavioral healthcare teams, the group published an early article, “Coming Out of Covid – Creating a Better New Normal,” (Pennsylvania Psychologist, June 2021).
- In September 2022, PPLC conducted a statewide conference on the BH challenges and lessons learned during the pandemic based on an analysis of how politics impacted science, health policy and the public response during Covid. The conference drafted a “better policy model” for discussion and guidance in the future.
- Also in 2020, as national attention turned toward racial injustices, the organization convened a Racial Justice Committee in an attempt to evoke meaningful change in the behavioral healthcare workforce. The Committee’s work led to a PPLC commitment to an ambitious goal: working with the Psychiatric Residency programs in Pennsylvania to increase recruitment and retention of Black Psychiatrists and to assure that training would enable all psychiatrists to effectively serve Black and other marginalized populations and their families. This effort has launched a Learning Collaborative comprised of the leadership of the 13 Psychiatric Residency programs in Pennsylvania, facilitated by PPLC and the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society, with the goals of recruiting and retaining Black Psychiatrists and the development of curricula for training all psychiatrists to more effectively serve Black individuals seeking psychiatric services in Pennsylvania. The PPLC is now closely monitoring the results of these efforts.
The PPLC is a national exemplar of how passionate and committed professionals and leaders within a state can collaborate to systematically grow, support, and strengthen the behavioral health workforce. The Coalition honors them for their innovative efforts.
Further information on this awardee and its highly replicable programs can be obtained from Ken Thompson, M.D. ([email protected]), PPLC Director of Medical Affairs; or Mr. Lloyd Wertz, ([email protected]), Administrator, PPLC.
The Annapolis Coalition congratulates the PPLC for its dedication, spirit and success in supporting the behavioral healthcare workforce in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.