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Pickett Bill to Enhance Accessibility for Mental Health Care Goes to Governor
HARRISBURG – Receiving outpatient mental health services would be made easier under legislation authored by Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) that is on its way to the governor.

House Bill 478, which received a concurrence vote in the House today, would help outpatient psychiatric clinics to meet the growing demand and address the shortage of psychiatric time by changing the number of hours of psychiatric supervision required for each staff member per week.

“Mental health is such a critical component of having healthy communities, especially in rural areas such as ours,” Pickett said. “As access and demand for mental health services increases, we must also make sure that our state laws stay up to date with advances in psychiatric care, namely newer professions such as psychiatric-certified registered nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants, or in delivery, such as tele-psychiatry. This legislation seeks to make those updates.”

Specifically, House Bill 478 addresses the supervision requirements in existing state law. Under the legislation, outpatient psychiatric clinics would be required to have a psychiatrist on site for two hours of psychiatric time per week for each full-time equivalent treatment staff member employed by the clinic. Half of the required on-site psychiatric time may be provided by other advanced-practice professionals specializing in behavioral health with the authority to prescribe medications in Pennsylvania. Tele-psychiatry may be used, but will not count toward the required psychiatric time.

House Bill 478 would also allow licensed prescribing professionals to work within their scope of practice as is the case in the physical health care arena.

“One of the ways to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness is to increase access and remove barriers for those wishing to seek therapy or treatment,” Pickett said. “This bill is a win-win in that it promotes good mental health and helps people get in touch with the services they may need.”

Representative Tina Pickett
110th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton
(717) 705-2094 /

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