This page will contain items of information that we believe will be of interest to our site visitors. The information we will be posting here will include announcements from the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), news about national trends in CPS work, and any other pertinent information to CPSs. Newer posts will be at the top of the page.

If you have a news story that you feel would be appropriate for this page please send it to

Awards Nomination for Alternatives (Posted 6/30/17)

In just a few weeks the longest running peer conference will be held in Boston.  One of  the exciting traditions of the Alternatives Conference is the opportunity to recognize our peers for exceptional work.  The award descriptions are below.
Click on Award Title to 
Access the Nomination Info and Form
Due date for awards is July 14, 2017


In honoring contributing members of our community, Alternatives has honored those who excel in certain fields. The Cookie Gant and Bill Compton LGBT Leadership Award is rooted in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning(LGBT) participants caucusing at Alternatives conferences since 1985. From secret to official, people proclaimed their place of competence and prominence in the mental health consumer/survivor community. The award recognizes leadership in a journey of coming out to make it safe to be proud and diverse. It was first given at Alternatives 2007 in St. Louis, in memory of Bill Compton of California and Cookie Gant of Michigan, who led by example when it wasn’t safe to be “out.”
In honoring contributing members of our community, Alternatives has presented the Esperanza Hope Award to a consumer/survivor/peer of color who has expanded the idea of cultural competency and done exceptional work within the mental health and peer support community. Esperanza was a nationally and internationally recognized Latina leader,who often attended Alternatives. She is credited with starting Casa La Esperanza, the first clubhouse for Latino consumer/survivors in New York City. This award is given in the spirit of her leadership and perseverance in advancing cultural diversity issues for people of color who are consumers/survivors.
In honoring contributing members of our community, Alternatives has honored those who excel in certain fields. This year brings the addition of a new award to honor our future – the Youth and Young Adult Peer Leadership Award. Alternatives wishes to stand tall with our emerging leaders and honor a youth or young adult who is excelling in providing leadership to engage more youth and young adults and who is working on continually changing the system to be person centered, recovery, health and wellness focused.

Scholarships for Alternatives Conference (Posted 6/27/17)

The ICAN program is offering scholarships to Alternatives, to be held in Boston August 18th-21st.
As you may know, Alternatives is a conference steeped in the understanding that recovery is possible. It’s a fantastic experience as the mental health recovery community joins together around best practices, common experiences, and most of all HOPE!
Anyone living in PA, who identifies as living with a mental health condition is eligible.
The application is due by July 14th. Please help spread the news and support folks to fill out the application which can be found on the ICAN webpage here. 

Multiple Upcoming Conferences (Posted 6/6/17)

PA Suicide Prevention Conference

From the Chairs of the PA Adult/ Older Adult Suicide Prevention Coalition and PA Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative:

Come and join us for our 2017 Annual Suicide Prevention Conference at the Best Western Premier in Harrisburg, PA on June 19, 2017.  Join suicide prevention advocates, suicide attempt and loss survivors, and mental health professionals as we learn what we all can do to prevent suicide. We will also be announcing the merger of the PA Adult/Older Adult Suicide Prevention Coalition and the PA Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative on becoming one united non-profit and entity joining to help all ages affected by suicide in Pennsylvania.  Display tables will provide free information such as brochures, resources, wristbands, t-shirts, etc. Please spread the word about this event – we would love to see you there!

Dual Diagnosis Conference

Registration is now open for the 2017 Dual Diagnosis Conference, presented by the Office of Developmental Programs and the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, which will be held July 20 & 21 in State College, PA.

REGISTRATION: Online registration is now open and will remain available until Wednesday, July 12, 2017.

All attendees must pre-register to attend the conference:

  • Visit to register.
  • Please note that you will need an account on MyODP in order to register for the conference and payment is made on an external site. Additional information about registration can be found on Page 5.
  • Seating is limited. Registration will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis.

Pennsylvania Community on Transition Conference

The vision of the PA Community on Transition is that all Pennsylvania youth and young adults with disabilities will successfully transition to the role of productive, participating adult citizens. Youth will be empowered to recognize their talents, strengths, and voice and have equal access to resources that promote full participation in the communities of their choice. The primary purpose of this conference is to expand the capacity of schools, agencies, and communities, in partnership with youth, young adults, and families, in promoting the successful transition of youth/young adults with disabilities to post-school outcomes of employment, post-secondary education and training, community participation, and healthy lifestyles. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about effective practices to assist youth/young adults with disabilities to explore possibilities, take
advantage of their opportunities, and actively advocate for their future.

Webinar Presenters Wanted (Posted 5/4/17)

Doors to Wellbeing, a program of the Copeland Center, conducts monthly webinar series dedicated to bringing ideas, topics and methods to improve the work of peer specialists.  We are looking for new, exciting and innovative presenters for our monthly Peer Specialist Webinar Series.  This is a great way to reach the peer community.

Click here to submit a proposal to them.

Community HealthChoices vs. HealthChoices (Posted 4/21/17)

Community HealthChoices (CHC) is a new program being rolled out in Pennsylvania.

CHC was developed to:

  • enhance access to and improve coordination of medical care
  • create a person-driven, long-term support system in which people have choice, control, and access to a full array of quality services that provide independence, health, and quality of life. Long-term services and supports help eligible individuals to perform daily activities in their home such as bathing, dressing, preparing meals, and administering medications.

Please see the below flyer for more information on what CHC is, how it is similar to HealthChoices, and how it differs.

Community HealthChoices Flyer

Temple Collaborative 2017 Institute on Community Inclusion Announced (Posted 4/13/17)

The Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion invites you to join them on July 24 and 25 to discuss state-of-the-science research related to individuals with mental health challenges and issues of community inclusion. Past conferences have been very popular and spaces fill quickly. Click the links below for the flyer or to visit their website for more information.

Flyer: 2017 Institute Announcement


Interim Director of OMHSAS Announced (Posted 4/12/17)

Due to the unexpected and untimely passing of Deputy Secretary for the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), Dennis Marion, there was a need to fill his leadership roll at the agency. Below is a message from the Secretary of the Department of Human Services, Ted Dallas:

Today I am announcing that Dr. Dale Adair will serve as the Acting Deputy Secretary for the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS). For those of you who have not yet met him, Dale currently serves with distinction as the Chief Medical Officer at OMHSAS and is an essential member of the OMHSAS executive team.

Dale’s nearly 30 years of experience in all levels of state government and his leadership experience will be invaluable as we move forward during this difficult time and begin the process of selecting our next Deputy Secretary. I have complete confidence that Dale will make the transition to a new Deputy Secretary as smooth as possible and that the critical work that OMHSAS does every day continues without interruption.

I would personally like to thank Dale for stepping up into this role, your leadership is needed now more than ever at DHS.

Please join me in welcoming Dale to this new role and working with him so that we can ensure that services continue for the vulnerable Pennsylvanians that OMHSAS serves.

Recovery Works Summit Registration is Open (Posted 4/7/17)

Registration is now open for the Recovery Works Summit on Wednesday, September 13 at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel.

Why attend the Summit? 

An agenda full of exciting keynote presentations, panel discussions and networking opportunities!

The Summit will focus on three ways to improve recovery success:

  • Exploration of opportunities and challenges for recovery workforce development and retention;
  • Advocacy within and between the recovery movements;
  • Working together to impact public policy that effects peer based recovery support services and our recovery systems.

Please join PMHCA and other stakeholders to use your lived experiences to improve our systems and change lives through recovery and new opportunities across our Pennsylvania communities.

To Register: Recovery Works Summit Registration

Certification through the Pennsylvania Certification Board (Posted 3/21/17)

On March 9 we posted an announcement on this page that the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has started the task of creating a formal credentialing process for CPSs through the Pennsylvania Certification Board. We posted that there will be an OMHSAS webinar held on April 4 to update people on this process.

The PaPSC, as the voice of CPSs in Pennsylvania, is in communication with OMHSAS staff and will be conducting multiple projects to gather feedback from CPSs and other stakeholders across Pennsylvania so that we can effectively advocate for CPS interests in this process. Some of the projects we will be conducting are:

  • a broad survey sent out electronically
  • ethics trainings to gather input from the training participants on aspects of ethics they would like included in a formal CPS Code of Ethics
  • focus groups to gather feedback from CPSs on a wide range of topics associated with this process including support for moving forward, fees, grandfathering, certification renewal times, expectations of benefits if implemented, etc.

Please watch this site and your email for updates and notifications as there will be a lot of information to communicate going forward.

CPS Certification through the Pennsylvania Certification Board (Posted 3/9/17)

At the Mental Health Planning Council meeting on March 2 OMHSAS announced that it is beginning the process of developing a formal credentialing process to certify CPSs through the Pennsylvania Certification Board. As part of this process OMHSAS is seeking broad stakeholder input. It has reached out to the PaPSC to participate in the discussions on how to move this process forward including developing procedures, a unified test, and a code of ethics. Other stakeholder organizations will be involved as well.

As a first step OMHSAS is hosting a webinar on April 4 to begin discussions on this topic. Please click here for registration and more information on the webinar.

OMHSAS Recruiting MH Planning Council Members (Posted 2/21/17)

The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services’ (OMHSAS) Mental Health Planning Council is currently accepting applications for new members! The Planning Council provides a forum for youth, adults, and family members with lived experience to work side-by-side with advocates, providers, administrators, and OMHSAS leadership to provide recommendations regarding important, statewide policy and programmatic issues.

For more information about the OMHSAS Mental Health Planning Council, visit or contact  Individuals interested in applying for membership are encouraged to attend the March 2, 2017meeting of the Mental Health Planning Council in Mechanicsburg, PA.

Application: Planning Council Application 201

WRAP Around the World Conference (Posted 1/26/17)

WRAP Around the World June, 2017The Copeland Center has released information regarding their WRAP Around the World Conference taking place in Sacramento, CA in June. 2017. Join them, WRAP Facilitators, and others from systems of care around the world to share emerging practices around the Wellness Recovery Action Plan. Network, build skills, learn about current research and innovative programs, and be part of the community! Click on the image to the left to view the flyer.

DHS Press Release (Posted 1/18/17)

The Department of Human Services issued a press release on January 11 regarding the closures of the Hamburg State Center for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as the closure of the civil section of Norristown State Hospital. Please click here to read the full story.

OMHSAS Announcement on CPSs in the Deaf Community (Posted 1/18/17)

The Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services along with a statewide workgroup has been working on developing a CPS training for individuals who are deaf. They are now looking for peer support provider agencies who are willing to hire the CPSs who complete this new training as part of an internship to permanent-hire program.

Please click here for the letter from OMHSAS for more complete details and contact information if your agency is interested.