An official with the Department of Public Welfare is pushing for a statewide assessment of how mental health services are delivered in the commonwealth.
Dennis Marion, a deputy secretary with the agency’s Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, says the state isn’t proactive enough in treating mental illness before it becomes an emergency.
He says there’s widespread consensus that the state should standardize both the qualifications and the guidelines used by people known as mental health delegates — the people who decide whether someone will be hospitalized for treatment.
"There is not a standard training process for folks who fulfill a delegate function," Marion said. "That’s the first step in a commitment process, the individual who reviews the petition."
Marion made his remarks to state House lawmakers at a recent hearing on the process of committing the mentally ill to a hospital for treatment.
He says data from the Pennsylvania State Police shows there are 36,000 involuntary commitments a year in the commonwealth.