Now Accepting Applications for Certified Peer Specialists

Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) Training Applications are being accepted from August 24, 2015 until September 17, 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 mail to DBHIDS use the contact information provided there.

Just-Released: Final Evaluation of the Porch Light Study

The Yale School of Medicine spent four years evaluating our Porch Light program – a collaborative endeavor of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and DBHIDS that aims to catalyze positive changes in the community, improve the physical environment, create opportunities for social connectedness, develop skills to enhance resilience and recovery, promote community and social inclusion, shed light on challenges faced by those with behavioral health issues, reduce stigma, and encourage empathy. More information about the Porch Light Project can be found HERE.

Now they are ready to share the evaluation results.

The evaluation was guided by a theory of change that specifies how certain neighborhood characteristics, collective efficacy among residents and aesthetic qualities of the neighborhood, can reduce established health risks associated with neighborhood decay and disorder. Public murals were expected to enhance these neighborhood characteristics in the short-term so as to promote long-term community health. The Porch Light theory of change also specifies how creation of a public mural by individuals with mental health or substance abuse challenges can reduce behavioral health stigma and enhance individual recovery and resilience. In collaboration with Porch Light stakeholders, the research team developed a logic model based on this underlying theory of change to guide the evaluation and examine community and individual-level outcomes.

The Porch Light Evaluation was part of a larger initiative, the Philadelphia Community Health Project (PCHP), conducted in collaboration with DBHIDS. The purpose of pchp was twofold: to identify appropriate comparison neighborhoods and participants from behavioral health agencies in Philadelphia for the Porch Light Evaluation, and to provide additional data to DBHIDS on the well-being, service use, and neighborhood conditions experienced by persons receiving behavioral health services. Porch Light and PCHP neighborhoods and agencies were matched on key characteristics, including conditions of neighborhood decay and disorder as well as demographic and neighborhood risk indicators, so as to enhance the scientific rigor of the evaluation.


After almost two years, residents living within one mile of more than one newly installed mural reported:

  • A sustained relative increase in collective efficacy, including social cohesion and trust among neighbors as well as informal neighborhood social control.
  • A modest but sustained relative increase in perceptions of neighborhood aesthetic quality, including the quality of the walking environment and perceived neighborhood safety.
  • A promising and sustained relative decrease (again at a statistical trend) in stigma toward individuals with mental health or substance abuse challenges.

Full findings from the study that highlight the effectiveness of Porch Light program murals are available HERE.

This evaluation was made possible by funding from: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation, William Penn Foundation, Independence Foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation, The Patricia Kind Family Foundation, Hummingbird Foundation, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

For media inquiries, contact:


MEDIA ADVISORY: “Fables of Fortune” Mural Dedication (7/1)

Philadelphia’s Strength-based and Community-oriented Mural about Gambling

Community-wide effort to strengthen awareness of “problem gambling” – especially amongst Philadelphia’s Asian immigrant communities

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Located in the heart of South Philadelphia’s Asian-American community – and only blocks away from Philadelphia’s casinos – the new mural, Fables of Fortune, is about problem gambling. Research suggests that the Asian American community is at higher risk for problem gambling than other communities. Fables of Fortune, the newest addition in the Porch Light series, a partnership between the Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services and the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, will greet riders of a popular casino-bound trolley service with messages of wellness, hope and recovery.  In addition, the mural illustrates stories of real people and the cultural aspects of luck and gambling; the challenges problem gamblers face; and the arrival of local casinos and gambling practices that target immigrant communities over the past decade. Created by Mural Arts artist, Eric Okdeh, the visual message behind the mural shows a path of recognition of gambling addiction, and the decision to overcome problem gambling for individuals and their families.

Join us on Wednesday, July 1 for the official unveiling. Greater details are below.

Problem Gambling Mural_photo by Eric Okdeh


  • Jane Golden, Executive Director, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
  • Dr. Marquita Williams, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services
  • Dr. Catherine Williams, Single County Authority Administrator, Director of Program Planning & Operations, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services
  • Thoai Nguyen, CEO, SEAMAAC
  • Eric Okdeh, Artist, City of Philadelphia, Mural Arts Program

2300 South 7th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Wednesday, July 1, 2015 from 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Remarks will take place on sidewalk North of the 2300 S 7th building

David Kim (215-685-5454 or
Kimberly Rymsha (215-685-5475 or

If you’re interested in speaking with someone on or prior to the event date and/or you planning to join us at the event, please let us know.

Funders and partners for this event include the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services/The Office of Addiction Services, SEAMAAC, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, and the Patricia Kind Family Foundation.

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.


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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)