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United Way of Lancaster County


Gov. Shapiro creates council to improve mental health, substance abuse treatment

Gov. Josh Shapiro hands his pen to Christina Finello after signing an executive order creating a Behavioral Health Council on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. (Source:

Gov. Josh Shapiro on Tuesday signed an executive order intended to improve services for mental illness and substance abuse disorder.

The order creates a Behavioral Health Council, the state’s first, and tasks it with developing a state action plan “to address any gaps in access, affordability or delivery” of mental health and substance abuse disorder treatment and related services.

In a news release, the state said the council will look at “new and innovative care delivery models, workforce challenges, related social needs and inequities, and collaboration between the criminal justice system, public safety networks, and public health organizations to treat the whole person.”

It will have 33 members, drawn primarily from state and local government agencies but aso including an actively practicing addiction specialist and two members of the public “with lived experience.” It will be led by Christina Finello, a public policy specialist with degrees in psychology and law.

Shapiro’s order also creates an Advisory Committee to assist the council with its work. It will have 20 to 25 members, drawn from a range of public and nonprofit stakeholder groups.

The council “will aim to ultimately create a more user-friendly and holistic approach for individuals with mental health and substance use disorder healthcare needs in the Commonwealth,” Finello said.