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Eight priorities for Philly’s next behavioral health commissioner []

Oct 7, 2020

After three years of service as commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS), David T. Jones will be stepping down on Friday. This change in leadership comes at a pivotal time as the COVID-19 global pandemic has illuminated and exacerbated long-standing challenges while also creating new and unique risks. Communities have been left tremendously vulnerable, and strong leadership will be critical to our collective resilience.

As we look toward the future of behavioral health in Philadelphia, the new commissioner must be ready to tackle complex problems so that all Philadelphians can achieve optimal health and wellness. The Scattergood Foundation considers key areas related to behavioral health that can guide the search committee in its efforts to select new leadership for DBHIDS:

Racial justice: Renewed calls for racial justice have highlighted how systemic racism has impacted the health and well-being of Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Philadelphia has a majority-nonwhite population, and many people of color seek services through DBHIDS. Interventions across the spectrum from health promotion to treatment must use a racial equity lens. For instance, efforts toward building awareness of trauma and its impacts must consider how racism causes and compounds trauma, affecting emotional well-being. In addition, behavioral health agencies must employ providers from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and offer treatment options that are culturally and linguistically accessible.

COVID-19: The coronavirus and its ripple effects have taken a significant toll on mental health. Continuing to provide flexible, lifesaving services and support is crucial. The department must strengthen the crisis services system, continue to expand access to treatment, and partner with the School District to support children and families through the crisis.

To read the full article by Joe Pyle and Kate Williams, click here.