County Mental Health System

Community mental health services are administered through county Mental Health and Developmental Services (MH/DS) program offices. These offices are part of county government and are overseen by a county MH/DS administrator.

The county MH/DS offices serve as a referral source.

Most actual mental health services are delivered by local provider agencies under contract with the county MH/DS office. The county MH/DS office determines a person's eligibility for service funding, assesses the need for treatment or other services and makes referrals to appropriate programs to fit treatment and/or other service needs.

The Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1966 requires the county MH/DS office to provide community mental health services, including: short-term inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, outpatient care, emergency services, specialized rehabilitation training, vocational rehabilitation and residential arrangements. MH/DS offices can also provide information about any additional mental health services and supports the county offers.

To find a county MH/DS office visit the Pennsylvania Association of County Administrators of Mental Health and Developmental Services.

Payment for Mental Health Services

There are a wide variety of mental health services available to children and adults. The cost of these services will vary depending upon the type of service. Pennsylvania's Medical Assistance Program, either through a managed care organization or the traditional fee-for-service system, pays for many of these services, when rendered to eligible individuals. People who use services, but are not on Medical Assistance and are without access to other insurance, will be assessed for their ability to pay for services by the county MH/DS office.

Many Pennsylvania counties participate in Behavorial HealthChoices, the mandatory managed care program for recipients enrolled in Pennsylvania's Medical Assistance Program. If a county is part of HealthChoices, the county or managed care organization will help people access services. If a county is not part of HealthChoices, persons interested in receiving services will need to make an appointment with the county MH/DS office.