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International Mental Health Group Visiting Philadelphia for Pointers

By Tom MacDonald

International mental health experts are in Philadelphia this week to learn from the city’s approach to handling behavioral health issues. David Jones, Philadelphia’s Commissioner of Behavioral Health says the international group referred to as I-Circle , the International Urban Regional Collaborative will offer an exchange of ideas.

“We really are going to be focusing going forward on bolstering the child and family component of our behavioral health system,” he said. “Inherent in that strategy encompasses our long-term effort to combat a number of challenges that we are having in our city our country and throughout the world, chief among them being the opioid epidemic.”

Isabella Goldie from Scotland says she’s impressed by Philadelphia’s approach on mental health.

“The trauma-informed approach is something that is quite unique to Philadelphia to weave it all the way through the layers of service provision,” she said, referring to care that asks “what happened to you?” instead of “what is wrong with you?”

Dr Arthur Evans, CEO of the American Psychological Association is a former mental health czar in Philadelphia.

He says bringing the group here is important because the city has addressed mental health issues for many years on the local level instead of the state level.

“The thing that we have learned these issues play out at that level and that if we want to have effective policy and strategies we also have to have
policies and strategies at that level,” he said.

The groups next stop is New York City later this week. Other cities participating include Pittsburgh; Christchurch, New Zealand; London and the West Midlands region in England; Stockholm; Dublin; and Toronto and Vancouver, Canada.