Dauphin County Mental Health Workers Honored for Helping Nearly 4K People in 2020

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Dauphin County’s mental health team provided services for nearly 4,000 adults and children last year – overcoming pandemic-related challenges that shifted the way those in crisis were helped.

This week, Dauphin County Commissioners recognized those efforts, presenting a proclamation to program director Andrea Kepler in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month (May).

“Your willingness to adapt and change in the field – despite mental health services being critically underfunded for years at the state and national levels – is nothing short of amazing,” Dauphin County Commissioner George P. Hartwick III said.

Kepler, Director of Mental Health/Autism/Developmental Programs (MHADP), was joined at the weekly commissioners’ meeting by several of her staff members. Kepler also thanked the MHADP Advisory Board for steering programs and initiatives.

Those efforts resulted in services for 3,596 people in need last year.

The commissioners emphasized MHADP’s collaboration with other county offices and community partners, such as the Stepping Up initiative (in unison with law enforcement and the courts) to minimize prison exposure for those with serious mental illness.

“When I became commissioner back in the early 2000’s, mental health was not talked about a whole lot. It certainly was not recognized as a commonality in criminal offenses,” Dauphin County Commissioner Chair Jeff Haste said. “Now, we are finally talking about it and dealing with it.”

Kepler emphasized her team’s approach to direct children to their home communities for therapy and treatment, rather than in residential treatment facilities.

In all, about 1,400 people in Dauphin County were provided intense behavioral health support in 2020.

“I saw a lot of longtime employees standing in our meeting room today, and that goes to show the commitment to care is for the long haul,” Dauphin County Commissioner Mike Pries said.

The commissioners pointed out that while some “frontline” professions – EMTs, grocers, healthcare workers – have deservedly received recognition for bravery during the pandemic, mental health professionals also are due those same accolades.

Read more about Dauphin County Mental Health/Autism/Developmental Programs.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett Hambright, Press Secretary, 717-780-6311; bhambright@dauphinc.org.