PA and County Leaders Discuss Importance of Increasing Funding for County Mental Health Programs

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh, DHS Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) Deputy Secretary Jen Smith, and OMHSAS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dale Adair joined leadership from Cumberland and Perry counties and other local officials to present the Dennis Marion Impact Award to Megan Johnston, Senior Human Services Program Manager with the Cumberland-Perry Mental Health Office.

“During Mental Health Awareness Month, it is so important to recognize the dedication of county behavioral health employees, who administer critical, life-saving services for people in their communities every day,” said Acting Secretary Arkoosh. “DHS is committed to investing in behavioral health systems to expand capacity, address workforce shortages, and break down barriers that prevent people from receiving services they need and deserve. We know that working in the mental health field is not easy, and I want to thank the county and state employees who are helping our fellow Pennsylvanians stay healthy and thrive, and we must give them continued support to rise to their communities’ needs.”

The Dennis Marion Impact Award recognizes outstanding achievement in state or local government employees, encourages the highest standards of performance in Pennsylvania’s public sector, attracts outstanding individuals to a career in public service, and highlights public awareness of the value of public service and its impact on the behavioral health and quality of life of individuals and communities.

Megan Johnston received the Dennis Marion Impact Award for her excellent communications skills, fostering community connections, and the ongoing support she provides to students, parents, school administrators, and teachers. In her role as Senior Human Services Program Manager, Johnston is the primary contact for and provides oversight of all child-related mental health services across Cumberland and Perry counties. She also serves as the Child & Adolescent Service System Program coordinator and supervisor as well as the Elementary Student Assistance Program (ESAP) supervisor, and recently helped to implement ESAP in all the counties’ school districts. Johnston is well respected for her wealth of knowledge and her constant desire to remain up-to-date on recent changes to policy, practices, and implementation of services available in both counties.

“Just like Dennis Marion, Megan is building a legacy within the community, making a strong impact with our children, their families, mental health professionals, advocates, and teachers,” said Annie Strite, Cumberland-Perry Mental Health administrator. “We are proud to be recognized for our work; however, there is so much that needs to be done. We cannot meet the needs of our residents without sustainable state mental health funding.”