Now Accepting Applications for Mental Health First Aid Instructor

Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) is leading a widespread implementation of Mental Health First Aid in Philadelphia. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a groundbreaking public education and early intervention program that teaches community members how to recognize and assist a person experiencing a behavioral health challenge or crisis. Before you provide some information about yourself, we want to make sure you know what becoming a MHFA Instructor involves.

Click here to get a overview and greater information about becoming an MHFA Instructor.

Here’s some other helpful information about becoming an instructor:

Pre-Assessment and Reference Document:
Please fill out the Pre-Assessment document to determine your readiness to become a Philadelphia MHFA Instructor.  This document is for your purpose only and should not be returned to the Philadelphia MHFA unit.

Please print out and give a copy of the Reference document to the individuals who will be writing a letter of reference on your behalf.  This document does not serve as your letter, it is to be used a guide only.  All letters of reference can be faxed to 215-599-5204 (Attn: Shemiah Cooper), emailed to or mailed to DBHIDS/MHFA 123 S. Broad St. 22nd flr. Phila., PA 19109

Instructor Agreement:
Signing the MHFA Instructor Agreement acknowledges that you have read and will fully abide by the terms described within.  If you are applying as an agent of your organization, a supervisor’s signature is required.

Frequently Asked Questions:
Need more information, please read the MHFA FAQs.


Now Accepting Applications for Certified Peer Specialists

Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) Training Applications are being accepted from May 11, 2015 until June 10, 2015.

DOWNLOAD: 2015 CPS Application

Please review description of training provided below:

A Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) is a paid staff person who is willing to self-identify as a person with a serious behavioral health disorder (mental illness or mental illness with a substance use disorder) with lived experiences. To be certified, the person must have received specific training in the role, functions and skills of the Certified Peer Specialist position.

The purpose of this position is to aid, teach and support others in their recovery process. This relationship between peers is characterized by mutual trust and respect, sharing of experiences, learning about the recovery process, supporting the peer in multiple settings, achieving goals and moving toward a more meaningful life.

Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) Certification Program is a free 10‐day training. All those who complete the training and meet the state’s CPS criteria will receive a CPS certificate qualifying them for CPS positions.

If you are interested in being trained to be a Certified Peer Specialist, please complete this form and return it via email or mail to DBHIDS use the contact information provided there.

New Chief Medical Officer for DBHIDS


TO: All Staff and Stakeholders
FROM: Arthur C. Evans, Ph.D., Commissioner
DATE: May 7, 2015
SUBJECT: DBHIDS Announces New Chief Medical Officer

I am pleased to announce Lawrence A. Real, MD, has agreed to serve as Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services effective July 2015. Dr. Real will join DBHIDS from Horizon House, a long tenured provider in our network where he currently serves as Medical Director. In the intervening months, Dr. Real will continue his work at Horizon House and prepare for his new role at DBHIDS, ensuring a smooth period of transition.

Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Real has been a passionate advocate and leader for stigma reduction, family inclusion, and consumer empowerment, and has served terms as president of both the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Psychiatric Societies. Previous to his tenure at Horizon House, he worked for over 20 years in the Department of Psychiatry of the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network as a clinician, administrator and faculty member, including serving as Medical Director of the Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment from 1997 to 2010.

Dr. Real has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Mental Health Care Corporation, and of the Consumer Satisfaction Team, Inc., a pillar of the Department’s commitment to be responsible and accountable to those receiving services. Dr. Real has been recognized on multiple occasions as an exemplary psychiatrist at the local, state, and national levels by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, most recently receiving the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from NAMI PA in 2013. He was also honored by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Mental Health Association with its 2012 Bell of Hope award.

On behalf of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Real for choosing to accept this vital role to have a broader impact on the health and wellness of our city’s adults and children.

We look forward to the beginning of summer when he will be joining us as Chief Medical Officer in the service of the City of Philadelphia.


Updated-TD-logo._For DBHIDS Webpage 3.25.2015png

DBHIDS Heat Safety Policy

Service Providers:

For your reference, here is the annual distribution of the DBHIDS Heat Safety Policy. The information remains the same this year. The Policy contains safety measures for the following OMH and OAS funded programs: residential programs (includes congregate, individual living arrangements and recovery houses), licensed drug and alcohol facilities, and mental health targeted case management programs. Additionally, the policy applies to certified peer specialist programs. The safety measures entail training, monitoring, and mechanical cooling requirements. Training at provider agencies should be completed by April 15 and copies of sign-in sheets received at Office of Mental Health to the attention of the Director of Mental Health Services by May 1.

Although the Policy applies directly to the types of programs identified above, all DBHIDS funded programs would benefit from implementation of the safety measures; we ask that you share the information with all of your programs.

Thank you for your assistance with this life-saving policy.

PDF: Heat Safety Bulletin 2015

PDF: Heat tips Ad_1

PDF: May ’02–Health Matters (Front) 2004 OMH Update

PDF: May -02–Health Matters (Back)

Transformation Decade

This year marks DBHIDS’ 10th year anniversary of our system transformation efforts. We’re calling it the Transformation Decade.

Philadelphia has a long history of innovation in the behavioral health field, and over the last ten years DBHIDS has been at the forefront of the shifting landscape in how people receive effective services.  To celebrate the many accomplishments, the many people and organizations that were (and continue to be) involved and plan for the next ten years, DBHIDS will be hosting a 10-month long celebration.

Children’s Behavioral Health Stakeholders Gathering, Jan 8, 2015

Blue Ribbon Commission on Children: A look back and the path ahead.

On Jan 8th, DBHIDS will convene a stakeholder gathering with representatives from the city’s child serving community, parents and youth, focusing on the transformation of children’s behavioral health services and the overall promotion of social and emotional wellbeing for children. The event will feature a look back at the 2007 Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Children’s Behavioral Health to review the progress made and discuss the path that lies ahead.

For your reference, here are links to the 2007 BRC report and executive summary:

Blue Ribbon Commission Full Report

BRC Report Executive Summary

For more information, please contact Program Manager Valarie Oulds: