Recent News & Events

  • Holiday Blues

    Holiday Blues

    The holidays are typically viewed as the season for joy and happiness, but that is not always the case for everyone. For some, the holidays bring sadness, loneliness, and depression. Though less serious than clinical depression, and not an officially recognized diagnosis, the holiday blues are a real phenomenon that affects people from November through the New Year.

    The holidays can exacerbate already anxious and stressful feelings, especially as we are all dealing with a global pandemic. If not addressed, these temporary feelings can develop into mental health disorders later in the year, expanding outside of the holiday season and into a clinical diagnosis.

    According to the numbers, 40% of adults suffer from anxiety around the holidays. And although this time of year is known for all the delicious treats and adult-beverage-fueled holiday parties, eating poorly and drinking excessively can worsen issues like stress, anxiety and depression.

    What can you do if you or a loved one is feeling down around the holidays?

    1. Avoid excess alcohol
      1. Alcohol is a depressant and can increase the number of negative feelings you may have. You don’t have to cut it out completely, but instead me more mindful about how much you are consuming and limit yourself to one or two drinks./span>
    2. Social distancing shouldn’t mean social isolation
      1. Because sadness often makes you want to be by yourself, a major risk factor for depression is social isolation. If you are feeling lonely, reach out for support. This can be trickier this year as we try to social distance ourselves for the health of our loved ones. If you cannot spend time with your family in-person this holiday season, try to find other ways you can enjoy social interaction. Whether that is a small get together with fewer family members or friends than normal, or connecting with everyone via Zoom, connecting with the people close to you can exponentially help your morale.
    3. Exercise regularly
      1. When feeling down, exercise is usually one of the last things on your mind. However, research has shown how regular physical activity can play an important role in preventing and reducing symptoms of depression. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that just one hour of physical activity each week was enough to prevent some future cases of depression. Try doubling down by going for a walk while catching up with a friend to cross two of these helpful suggestions off at once.
    4. Know your limits
      1. Christmas shopping, holiday parties, and working extra hours so a co-worker can take time off adds up. You are allowed to say no if the list of obligations in front of you brings you more anxiety than joy. Try not to spread yourself too thin and make sure to take time out during this busy season for yourself to recharge.

      Pay attention to the things that contribute to the stress and anxiety you feel during this time of year so you can better manage and get ahead of them moving forward to avoid the blues. If the holiday blues start taking a turn into something more serious, or the feelings continue past the holiday season and start to affect your daily routine, you might have a more serious condition and should seek expert help.

      If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

      If you would like to speak to someone about better managing your stress and anxiety, or to make an appointment, please call (717) 782-6493 for more information.



  • CAPSTONE Gives Hope to Psychosis Patients

    CAPSTONE Gives Hope to Psychosis Patients

    Setting a New Standard for Psychosis Patients, CAPSTONE Helps Psychosis Patients Live a Normal Life

    The word “psychosis” is a powerful term that carries a frightening social stigma. But while psychosis is a serious condition, the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute’s CAPSTONE program is redefining its treatment and giving patients hope.

    “It’s important for people to know that psychosis can be treated,” said Amanda Fooks, MSW, LCSW, Lead Therapist, CAPSTONE. “With the right treatment and support, individuals can live a normal life even with symptoms.”

    CAPSTONE is an outpatient program designed to provide comprehensive treatment and support for young adults ages 16 to 30 experiencing early psychosis. “The program focuses on early psychosis because, like any illness, the earlier you start treating it the better the outcome,” explained Fooks.

    Psychosis is a break with reality. It can make it difficult for patients to recognize what is real and what isn’t. These disruptions are often experienced as seeing, hearing and believing things that aren’t real or having unusual and persistent thoughts.

    It’s a common misconception that patients experiencing psychosis need to be hospitalized. But a person only needs to go to the hospital if they are unable to keep themselves or other people safe.

    “If possible, we want to avoid hospitalization,” said Fooks. “We want to help them live as normal a life as possible. And hospitalization can be a traumatic experience in and of itself.”

    Providing Comprehensive Care

    What makes the outpatient CAPSTONE program so effective is the comprehensive nature of the services it offers. The program includes two components. The clinical component includes individual therapy, psychiatry, and family education. The support component includes services like helping patients get a job and providing case management which helps them get to appointments and manage their health.

    “This comprehensive care is possible through the close collaboration of three organization,” said Fooks. The Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute provides the clinical care, the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg provides the employment assistance, and Case Management Unit provides case management support.

    Capstone Program - PPI, YWCA, CMU - Harrisburg, PA

    “Staff from all three organizations, including psychiatrists, are in constant communication about the patient’s condition,” Fooks said. “We work very closely together to provide complete care.”

    Overall, the program aims to reduce symptoms or help patients managed their symptoms by teaching different skills and coping strategies. But the program is successful because it is centered on the participants.

    “People set their own goals,” Fooks noted. “If they are not working, they might set the goal to enroll in HACC and complete the entire year. That’s success by their measure.”

    For some, the symptoms may never completely go away. But the program recognizes that there is a livable amount of symptoms – which may vary by the person – and that’s the balance the program aims to find for each patient.

    If you would like to speak to someone about better managing your stress and anxiety, or to make an appointment, please call (717) 782-6493 for more information.


    Who CAPSTONE Helps

    Due to grant limitations, CAPSTONE is only available to current residents of Dauphin County between the ages of 16 and 30. It is designed for persons experiencing their first episode of psychosis, and requires the individual and their family to participate in services. Even if a person isn’t sure they are experiencing is psychosis, they should contact the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute as soon as possible and we can help, whatever the diagnosis.

    “It’s important for people to know that psychosis can be treated. With the right treatment and support, patients can live a normal life even with symptoms.”
    —Amanda Fooks, MSW, LCSW, Lead Therapist, CAPSTONE

  • Compliance & Ethics Week

    Compliance & Ethics Week is November 1-7, 2020

    Corporate Compliance & Ethics Week is November 1-7, 2020.

    Keeping up its tradition of encouraging employees to follow the highest of standards, Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute (PPI) is participating in Corporate Compliance & Ethics Week.

    This week began in 2005 as a way to help members of the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics & Health Care Compliance Association (SCCE & HCCA) to increase awareness of compliance and ethics issues at their organizations. It has since grown to an annual event celebrated around the world.

    Corporate Compliance & Ethics Week is an extension of PPI’s ongoing compliance and ethics program. Company-wide compliance and ethics education, held annually, allows our organization to roll-out new and updated compliance and ethics program policies and reinforce with employees their compliance and ethics obligations. Participation in Corporate Compliance & Ethics Week gives additional opportunity to shine a spotlight on the importance of compliance and ethics and boost compliance culture.

    Elements of an Effective Compliance & Ethics Program:

    1. Standards of conduct, policies, and procedures
      1. To provide the best care possible, PPI has high standards for our employees. Ask your supervisor where you can find a copy of them to review.
    2. Compliance officer and committee
      1. Laurie Talbot is PPI’s Director of Compliance. Please email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with any compliance questions.
    3. Communication and education
      1. Create effective, ongoing training methods and establish open lines of communication.
    4. Internal monitoring and auditing
      1. PPI uses internal tools to evaluate program effectiveness and detect criminal conduct.
    5. Reporting and investigating
      1. We encourage employees to raise concerns and we have investigative procedures in place should an issue arise.
    6. Enforcement and discipline
      1. PPI is committed to the enforcement of all policies, procedures and standards of conduct. Disciplinary actions may be taken for any violations.
    7. Response and prevention
      1. In collaboration with our Ethics committee, our compliance department’s goal is to resolve identified problems promptly and add related issues to monitoring activities. If you believe you have seen a compliance or ethical violation, call (717) 782-4682, or you can go to PPI’s Intranet Home page - What’s New? and click on the link “ Ethical Concern Submission Form” to report your concern.

    Do you know what should you do in these situations?

    Situation 1: You happen to be surfing a social website and you come across a negative comment about your organization that you believe is false. You want to respond and set the record straight. What should you do?

    Unless you are authorized to speak on behalf of your organization, you should not respond. However, you should note the item and report it to your organization’s Public Relations Department or Legal. They will decide how best to respond.

    Situation 2: A coworker tells you she needs to leave work a few minutes early to catch her son’s high school game. She asks if you could punch out her timecard when you leave at the end of the shift. What should you do?

    Be completely honest with her explaining not only are you uncomfortable with her request to falsify her time card and risk both of you getting fired, but if she needs to leave early she should do so with the supervisor’s knowledge and approval. It is never right to lie regardless of the circumstances.

    Find out more at:

    If you would like to speak to someone about better managing your stress and anxiety, or to make an appointment, please call (717) 782-6493 for more information.

  • Accreditations Help Patient Financial Services Serve Patients Even Better

    Accreditations Help Patient Financial Services Serve Patients Even Better

    Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute’s Patient Financial Services is raising the bar. Through a range of accreditations, their team is keeping abreast of the latest developments in their field while making sure to provide top-notch service to patients.

    “To be a successful organization, you need to be around successful people and give them the tools and opportunities to grow,” said Lisa Laudeman, CRCE-I, CRCE-P, Patients Accounts Manager. “These certifications take our team and the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute to the next level. The team comes out of it with a well-rounded idea of the best practices used at the nation’s leading hospitals.”

    Patient Financial Services includes customer service, billing, follow up, eligibility, and benefits – anything related to the revenue cycle. The staff needs to know collection law and compliance rules, as well as the technical side of their positions.

    Nationally Recognized Accreditation

    The team is getting their accreditations from the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM). The American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM) is the premier professional organization in healthcare administrative management, and the only organization dedicated exclusively to the revenue cycle.

    “This rigorous accreditation process enables us to do billing more proficiently – accuracy increases and claims are paid properly. And we’re better able to help patients when they call,” explained Laudeman.

    Rigorous Process Prepares Team for Almost Anything

    Even after they leave the hospital, patients may get EOBs in the mail that they don’t understand, or they may have questions about their benefits. With this added training, the team is ready to help.

    “Sometimes because of the extra level of training, we can resolve problems before the patient sees them – so their experience continues to be positive,” Laudeman noted.

    AAHAM offers three levels of certification – executive, professional and technical. Currently the entire team is going through the process – which includes a lot of studying and a passing score on the accreditation test. The department’s goal to have everyone accredited by 2020. The accreditation is for three years, which helps the team stay abreast of the latest developments and services.

    “It’s a lot of work to earn the accreditation, but it is important for our patients that we be as knowledgeable and helpful as we can be,” said Laudeman.
    If you would like to speak to someone about better managing your stress and anxiety, or to make an appointment, please call (717) 782-6493 for more information.

    Patient Financial Services Accreditations

      • The AAHAM Certified Revenue Cycle Executive – This is for senior leader level positions.

      • The AAHAM Certified Revenue Cycle Professional – This is specifically for supervisors and first-time managers to help them understand the processes, but it also has technical component so they need to know what their staff does.

      • The AAHAM Certified Revenue Cycle Specialist – This staff level accreditation is much more detail oriented, focused day-to-day process and they must know including federal regulations and fundamental concepts.

    The accreditations come with an Institutional tag (for hospital billing and collections) or Professional tag (for everybody else like doctors’ offices, labs, etc.)

    “Sometimes because of the extra level of training, we can resolve problems before the patient sees them – so their experience continues to be positive.”

    —Lisa Laudeman, CRCE-I, CRCE-P, Patients Accounts Manager

  • Mental Illness affects more people than you think.

    Suicide Prevention

    Knowing these signs can save the life of a loved one.

    Mental Illness affects more people than you think.

    Mental Illness Awareness Week is October 4-10, 2020. During this week, Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute (PPI) hopes to further educate our community and bring awareness to mental illness.

    Did you know?

    • • 1 in 5 adults have experienced mental illness.
    • • 1 in 25 adults have experienced a serious mental illness.
    • • 1 in 8 emergency department visits by an adult involves a mental illness or substance use disorder.
    • • High school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers.
    • • Just over 50% of those aged 6-17 with a mental health disorder received treatment in 2016.

    It may seem taboo, but only by talking about suicide can we bring more awareness to the serious issue affecting tens of thousands of Americans every year.

    • • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 in the U.S.
    • 90% of people who die by suicide had shown symptoms of a mental health condition, according to interviews with family, friends and medical professionals.
    • • Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are 4x more likely to attempt suicide.
    • 75% of people who die by suicide are male.
    • • Transgender adults are nearly 12x more likely to attempt suicide.

    You are not alone.  The staff at PPI is here for you.
    Call (717) 782-6493 to speak with someone today.

    If you are in emotional distress, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. Trained counselors are available 24/7.

    If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911.

    If you would like to speak to someone about better managing your stress and anxiety, or to make an appointment, please call (717) 782-6493 for more information.



  • Coming up for AIR: an innovative treatment program provides patients hope

    Minority Mental Health Awareness

    September is National Recovery Month. Each September, we aim to educate our community about substance use disorders and promote our services to help those with substance use disorders live healthy and rewarding lives.

    The hard work that goes into a successful treatment plan often goes unnoticed, and Recovery Month aims to celebrate the achievements made by everyone in recovery by reinforcing the positive actions they have taken to regain their health. Being able to increase awareness about effective treatment and successful recoveries, only benefits the members of our community. We are proud of our staff members who help to facilitate the recovery process, but we are the proudest of our patients who have put in the work and have been successful in their recovery.

    Opioid use disorder is everywhere— and central Pa. is no different. Pennsylvania has some of the highest overdose rates in our nation—that’s at least one overdose a day from central Pa. hospitals. In 2018, it is believed that over 120 people died by overdose in Dauphin County alone.

    The epidemic is overwhelming, but it is important to remember that people do recover. It is possible to overcome addiction. You are not alone. It’s just a matter of reaching out for help, and then getting connected with effective, evidence based, comprehensive treatment.

    PPI is providing that help with their innovative Advancement In Recovery (AIR) Program. Through a combination of Medication-Assisted Treatment—or MAT—and intensive counseling, people with opioid use disorder are getting a second chance to live a fulfilling life.

    If you would like to speak to someone about better managing your stress and anxiety, or to make an appointment, please call (717) 782-6493 for more information.

    “We treat patients with respect and compassion. Substance use disorder is a medical issue—a progressive, chronic disease—and we approach it with a prescribed set of treatments like any other disease.”

  • Knowing these signs can save the life of a loved one.

    Suicide Prevention

    According to Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention (CDC), every day, approximately 123 Americans commit suicide. That means there is one death by suicide in the US every 12 minutes. (CDC)

    However, suicide is preventable. Successful suicide prevention involves understanding suicide risk, protective factors, available resources and procedures for maintaining wellbeing. Although Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute’s (PPI’s) providers are trained to notice the signs of suicidal ideation and behaviors in our patients, educating our community on these signs means we can work together to help more people in need.

    Common warning signs that can indicate suicidal behavior:

    • • Talking about wanting to die
    • • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself
    • • Planning or preparing for a suicide attempt (e.g., buying a gun)
    • • Making financial and other arrangements for dependents
    • • Social withdrawal
    • • Substance abuse

    Those at higher risk for suicide tend to have a history of:

    • • Non-suicidal self-injury
    • • Psychiatric diagnoses, or onset of psychiatric symptoms
    • • Traumatic brain injuries
    • • Traumatic childhood experiences
    • • Military service (i.e., service members and veterans)
    • • Previous suicide attempt(s)
    • • LGTBQ+
    • • Loss of employment, housing, or a relationship
    • • Suicide death of a relative or peer

    On the contrary, those with the following protective factors tend to be at lower risk:

    • • Employment
    • • Responsibilities to others
    • • Strong interpersonal bonds
    • • Resilience
    • • Sense of belonging and identity
    • • Access to health care
    • • Optimistic outlook

    If you notice any of the above warning signs in someone you know, have a conversation with them and tell them of your concern. Do not be afraid to ask them if they are considering suicide.

    • • Let them know you care, and that they are not alone, and that they can get help. Do not try arguing with them, and do not say things like “You have so much to live for” or “If you kill yourself, it will hurt your family.”
    • • Ask them if they are seeing a doctor or are taking medication. If so, encourage them to contact their provider immediately. You can also offer to help them find a mental health professional and/or take them to a walk-in psychiatric clinic or hospital emergency room.
    • • Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
    • • Do not leave them alone.

    If you are in emotional distress, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. Trained counselors are available 24/7.

    If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911.

    If you would like to speak to someone about better managing your stress and anxiety, or to make an appointment, please call (717) 782-6493 for more information.



  • Minority Mental Health Awareness

    Minority Mental Health Awareness

    Mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race. Anyone can experience the challenges of mental illness. However, background and identity can make access to mental health treatment much more difficult. National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was established to start changing this.

    The Center for Disease Control (CDC) partners with the Department of Health and Human services (DHHS) each July to launch outreach programs and distribute educational material designed for minority groups of the population, including Hispanics, Blacks, Asian/Pacific Islanders, as well as Native Americans.

    Taking on the challenges and stigma of mental health conditions requires all of us to work together. In many communities, these problems are increased by less access to care, cultural stigma and lower quality care.

    Despite advances in health equality, disparities in mental healthcare continue. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. are less likely to have access to and to use mental health services. Lack of mental healthcare access contributes to poor mental health outcomes, like suicide, among these minority populations.

    In reports by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and CDC:

    1. In 2017, 10.5% (3.5 million) of young adults age 18 to 25 had serious thoughts of suicide including 8.3% of non-Hispanic blacks and 9.2% of Hispanics.
    2. In 2017, 7.5% (2.5 million) of young adults age 18 to 25 had a serious mental illness including 7.6% of non-Hispanic Asians, 5.7% of Hispanics and 4.6% of non-Hispanic blacks.
    3. Feelings of anxiety and other signs of stress may become more pronounced during a global pandemic.
    4. People in some racial and ethnic minority groups may respond more strongly to the stress of a pandemic or crisis.

    The purpose of the National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is to ensure that information and assistance are available to meet the needs of minority populations. The campaign also aims at creating awareness among afflicted persons and details about where they can find help. By helping to spread helpful information about mental issues facing minority populations, you will go a long way to assist afflicted persons, their friends, family and others living around them.

    During July, and every month after, let us join together to help those around us who are affected by mental illness, regardless of their background.

    If you would like to speak to someone about better managing your stress and anxiety, or to make an appointment, please call (717) 782-6493 for more information.



  • Finding Opportunities to Help Turning Problems into Solutions

    Finding Opportunities to Help Turning Problems into Solutions

    Responding to patient complaints and grievances is the job of our Patient Advocate. It’s not easy, but the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute is dedicated to listening to patients and doing what they can to resolve an issue.

    If you have an issue, your Patient Advocate is going to try to help you to the best of their ability. Sometimes they can’t make a change, but will do their best to make you happy. Our Patient Advocate enjoys working with people to figure out ways to make their situation a little better.

    The Patient Advocate is usually involved in what’s called a grievance. This is a formal process in which they typically researches patient complaints. These can range from disagreements about a discharge plan, lost items, food options, or a staff member.

    Often, our Patient Advocate finds in each problem an opportunity to assist the patient. They have helped patients find new doctors, and helped a patient get a discharge plan changed. They have even worked with the billing department to help a patient pay their bill so they could continue their care.

    Working with Patients and Staff

    The Patient Advocate is also involved in helping identify problems and solutions before patients experience them.

    As the Patient Advocate, they are a member of the hospital’s Patient Experience Committee. The committee brings together staff from across the organization to share what they do and find ways to work together to improve the patient experience.

    Our Patient Advocate has also started going into each unit once a month to talk to the patients. This way they can give patients an overview of what they do, what the complaint process is, and get ideas from them. What could we do better? What kinds of things could we improve?

    Helping Patients Learn to Help Themselves

    The Patient Advocate also sees their role as helping patients learn to advocate for themselves.

    Patients don’t always know how to speak up for themselves. Our Patient Advocate tries to help them find their own voice. For the smaller things, they are encouraged to talk to the staff first and try to resolve their problems. But if they need help, their Patient Advocate always there.

    Whatever the patient issue or concern, the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute is committed to investigating it in a fair and appropriate manner. Patients and their family members are encouraged to voice their questions and concerns.

    If you would like to speak to someone about better managing your stress and anxiety, or to make an appointment, please call (717) 782-6493 for more information.

    “If you have an issue, your Patient Advocate is going to try to help you to the best of their ability. Sometimes they can’t make a change, but will do their best to make you happy. Our Patient Advocate enjoys working with people to figure out ways to make their situation a little better.”

  • Thank you, to you our mental health workers!

    Thank You, Mental Healthcare Workers
    May is Mental Health Month, and seeing all that is happening in the world, there is no better time to prioritize mental wellness.

    During these unprecedented times, it is the essential workers who are getting us though this pandemic, working hard to make sure we are staying in a good place mentally through these trying times. They are our mental health workers.

    We want to take this time to sincerely thank our doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, behavioral health specialists and other caregivers who work together, consulting and relying on each other to give the best possible care to our patients. They are working tirelessly to treat, assist and facilitate behavioral health services for those who need it and consistently monitor their progress.

    Along with our medical personnel, our support staff have been amazing at allowing us to continue helping our patients. From keeping our facility clean to providing our patients and staff with warm meals, thank you! Your work has not gone unnoticed as we would not be able to function if it were not for all you do.

    One in five people in the U.S. will experience a mental illness during their lifetime. Right now, however, we are all facing unique challenges that are impacting our mental health. Sheltering in place, social distancing and isolation and the loss of a job or income, are the devastating effects from an already uncertain time.

    If you are struggling, please check out our blog on ways to help manage anxiety and stress.

    Now, more than ever, we need to find ways to stay connected with our community. No one should feel alone or without the information, support and help they need.

    If you would like to speak to someone about better managing your stress and anxiety, or to make an appointment, please call (717) 782-6493 for more information.

  • Understanding the Effects of Trauma

    A traumatic event can affect a person and their behavior for years. Whether it’s an act of violence, an automobile accident, sexual abuse, or witnessing a traumatic event, the repercussions continue to be felt later in life and affect their perspective.

    Through the use of Trauma-Informed Care, Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute is engaging people with histories of trauma, recognizing the presence of trauma symptoms and acknowledging the role that trauma has played in their lives.

    Statistics show that most people receiving mental health services have experienced a traumatic event in the past.

    “Our mission as a Trauma-Informed Care organization is look at the whole patient and respond to the impact of trauma in their lives, as well as the lives of their families and even our staff,” explained Stephanie Kegel, MBA, LCSW, CAADC, CCDPD, CCS, Adult Service Line Director. “It is a treatment framework running through all the services we provide that involves understanding the effects of trauma in a patient’s life and how that may relate to the patient’s current behavior.”

    Understanding how past traumatic events impact a patient’s behavior today gives both providers and the patient a greater sense of control and empowerment.

    Trauma-Informed Care is based on six key principles set forth by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

    1. Safety so that staff and patients feel physically and psychologically safe.
    2. Trustworthiness and Transparency among staff, patients, and family members.
    3. Peer Support for building trust, establishing safety, and empowerment.
    4. Collaboration and Mutuality that recognizes everyone has a role to play in a trauma-informed approach.
    5. Empowerment, Voice and Choice where individuals’ strengths are recognized, built on, and validated and new skills developed.
    6. Cultural, Historical and Gender Issues in which the organization actively moves past cultural stereotypes and biases.

    “Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute started focusing on Trauma-Informed Care about three years ago, and the program has continued to grow,” noted Kegel.

    Trauma-Informed Care training is now part of the orientation program for all staff. A Trauma-Informed Care Champion has been made a formal position to lead the change, and provided with training and budgeting to continue its growth. They’ve also developed support for departments to help units develop the program according to their unique circumstances and responsibilities.

    “It is a new mindset and a culture shift,” Kegel added. “It’s not what’s wrong with you but what happened. We are not judgmental – we see patients as individuals with unique backgrounds and that helps them better recover.”


    “Trauma-Informed Care is a treatment framework running through all the services we provide that involves understanding the effects of trauma in a patient’s life and how that may relate to the patient’s current behavior.”
    —Stephanie Kegel, MBA, LCSW, CAADC, CCDPD, CCS, Adult Service Line Director

  • Innovative Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Teaches Patients How to Manage Their Emotions

    For patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD), each day is a struggle to regulate their emotions and manage relationships at home, at school and at work. But through an innovative but intensive program at Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), these patients learn life skills to help them manage their emotions and succeed.

    “Dialectical Behavioral Therapy works – I’ve seen the difference it makes. But you have to work hard. It is a very structured form of treatment,” said Sherrie-An Gerhart, Program Coordinator.

    The program is designed for individuals who need more support than outpatient therapy alone. This highly structured approach is unlike any other program with both classroom training and the individual therapy.

    Learning Life Skills

    The therapy is a rigorous 13-week program that includes nine hours of classroom training, and homework every night. Through this training, patients learn a wide range of life skills including:

    1. Mindfulness as well as the ability to stay in the present and be non-judgmental.
    2. The ability to handle stress and distress, and bring down the intensity of high emotion.
    3. The ability to regulate emotions, and understand their purpose and function.
    4. Interpersonal skills, including communicating, understanding limits and trusting themselves.

    Skills classes are co-facilitated by therapists with specialized DBT training and include up to 12 men and women.

    The program also includes individual therapy as well as a unique feature: coach calling. If a patient is in a stressful situation and finds their emotions spiraling out of control, they may forget the skills they learned. In that event, they can call a therapist any time to get coaching on the techniques they should use in that particular situation.

    What Makes Your Life Worth Living?

    “We ask patients, ‘What makes your life worth living’ and that becomes their goal – whether it is a relationship, a job, an education, or whatever, and we work toward that goal,” said Gerhart. “Their behaviors are interfering with their quality of life, but we’re helping them learn the skills that allow them to reach their goals. I’ve seen it work.”

    The program also includes psychiatric evaluation, medication management, family sessions, and a DBT Graduate Group for individuals who have successfully completed the program either at Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute or in the community.

    If you would like to speak to someone about better managing your stress and anxiety, or to make an appointment, please call (717) 782-6493 for more information.


    Who Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Helps
    Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is for individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) or individuals who have strong traits of this diagnosis. It has also been used to treat individuals with drug and alcohol addictions, eating disorders and for pain management. Patients must be at least 18 years old and not currently attending high school. Individuals may attend college or work while attending the program; however, full-time employment and a full college course is not recommended, while attending the program due to the program’s intensity.

    “We ask patients, ‘What makes your life worth living’ and that becomes their goal – whether it is a relationship, a job, an education, or whatever, and we work toward that goal.”
    —Sherrie-An Gerhart, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Program Coordinator


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  • Managing Anxiety and Stress through a Pandemic

    In this time of uncertainty, you may be feeling more worried than normal and are noticing negative thoughts getting in the way of your focus or tasks. During a normal day, many of us already deal with stress and anxiety. Throw a pandemic into the mix, and you may feel overwhelmed. Anxiety can plant itself in your mind and grow into a situation that may seem impossible to deal with.

    When you notice these thoughts taking over, pause, and ask yourself if it is true. The fact is these thoughts are most likely not true. Times of crisis can be mentally taxing. The best thing you can do is to make sure you are pouring from a full cup.

    You cannot help yourself or others if you are struggling mentally, emotionally, or physically. Try the following tips to help you cope with your anxiety and stress:

    1. Simplify your to-do list.
      • Minimize or eliminate unnecessary activities. Focus on the things you need to get done and let go of the less important things until the crisis is over, so you have more time to focus on what is important.
    2. Take deep breaths.
      • Try focusing on your breath instead of anxious thoughts. Take a deep breath in while counting to five, hold for five seconds, and breathe out for five. Repeat this at least three times, more if necessary, to help calm you down.
    3. Use aromatherapy.
      • Certain smells, like lavender, have a proven calming and soothing effect. When you feel yourself getting worked up, light your favorite calming candle, diffuse oils, or use a room spray to trigger the receptors in your brain to help alleviate anxiety.
    4. Eat well.
      • Try to eat healthy, nutrient-dense meals when you can. A multi-vitamin is a great way to make sure you get vital nutrients if you are struggling to get them through your diet.
    5. Move your body.
      • Sometimes the best way to get out of your head is to get into your body.  Go for a walk, follow a workout video, or take a few minutes to stretch. Movement can help shift your focus and help you (literally) walk away from the situation causing you stress.
    6. Get a good night’s rest.
      • Sleep is crucial for managing stress. Make sure you get a full night’s rest and are maintaining normal sleep/wake hours. If you are struggling to fall asleep at night, talk to your doctor; they may suggest taking supplements to help aid sleep.
    7. Stay connected.
      • Social and family connections are even more important during a time where we are being asked to stay isolated. Modern technology has made it easier than ever to talk to family and friends. Since we cannot physically be with all our loved ones during this time, make sure to schedule time to FaceTime, Skype, or set up a Zoom call to stay connected.

    Although this is a stressful time, remember that this pandemic is temporary. We are all managing the best we can given the circumstances. Until life can return to normal, it is important that you take the steps needed to care for and support yourself.

    If you would like to speak to someone about better managing your stress and anxiety, please peruse our website or call (717) 782-6493 for more information.

  • Recognizing Outstanding Patient Care

    Our providers at Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute continue to develop new programs and grow existing services in order to meet the changing needs of our clients and our community. This includes the ongoing development of our staff to ensure that they have the training and the tools they need to provide quality, effective care.
    Everyone has a story to tell. And through special programs at Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute (PPI), inpatients are getting to tell stories about the outstanding care they receive from the nursing and non-nursing staff.

    Over the past several years, PPI has rolled out two programs that collect patient stories about the wonderful care they receive.

    The DAISY Program is a national award for nurses started by the family of Patrick Barnes who died of a rare disease but received outstanding care from his nurses. The BEE Program is for non-nursing staff such as technicians, social workers, care coordinators, therapist and even physicians.

    “We know our staff does a tremendous job, but we don’t know everything that they do that they do for patients,” said Theresa Terry-Williams, Chief Nursing Officer. “It’s nice to have the patients tell their stories and how our staff impacted their lives.”

    The DAISY and BEE Awards

    The Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute started participating in the national DAISY Program in 2016 to recognize its nurses. “We know that our nurses are doing wonderful things each day and this gives patients the opportunity to tell their stories – how much a nurse has impacted their life while hospitalized at PPI,” explained Terry-Williams.

    That program was such a success, PPI also wanted to recognize non-nursing staff and created the BEE Award – Be Extraordinary Every day. “We call it the BEE Award because just like a daisy can’t survive without bee pollination, nurses can’t survive without their support team,” Terry-Williams said.

    Gathering Patient Stories

    The nominations come from patients, family and even other staff.

    “The reaction has been very positive – we receive 100 nominations some quarters. It means a lot when the patients take the time to submit a nomination,” said Terry-Williams. “You know they must be very appreciative to take the time to tell their story.”

    Each quarter, the nominations have identifying information removed and are graded based on several criteria, including compassion, trustworthiness, collaboration/teamwork, honesty and love. The nomination earning the most points wins the award.

    The Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute then holds a celebration for the entire staff. There, all the nominations are read aloud, saving the winning nominations until the last. Sometimes the patient or person who wrote the winning nomination reads it out loud.

    “People are usually in tears – our patients can be very passionate when they tell their story,” Terry-Williams noted.

    The winners get a statue, a pin and a certificate. Their picture is also posted in the hospital with the nominating story.

    “Our staff works very hard every day, and we want people to know that we respect what they do and we want to recognize the hard work and say ‘Thank you for what you are doing here and the way you support our patients through this crisis period in their life,’” noted Terry-Williams. “This is not something everyone can do. It takes a special kind of person.”

    “He listened without judgment as I recounted … my personal story and responded with unflinchingly real feedback, compassion and encouragement…. I will always be grateful for the help he gave me.”

    “When she walks onto the unit, into the nursing station or in a client’s room, it feels like a candled has entered the darkness.”

    “Jeff was exemplary in his ability to see beyond what the client presented to truly meet the client’s needs.”


  • Medical Leaders Oversee Continuing Growth and Development

    Our providers at Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute continue to develop new programs and grow existing services in order to meet the changing needs of our clients and our community. This includes the ongoing development of our staff to ensure that they have the training and the tools they need to provide quality, effective care.

    Below, our medical leaders describe some of the activities underway in their areas that are helping Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute and its providers build for the future.

    Adult Service Line
    The Adult Service Line at Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute is continuing to expand its programs and is serving more adult and mature adults than ever before. During fiscal year 2018, we achieved the highest inpatient census since the inception of Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, and we experienced robust growth in the day program and outpatient services. We also obtained substantial funding from the state of Pennsylvania for our Opioid Treatment Program, allowing us to treat more patients. Meanwhile, our psychiatrists made presentations at regional and national professional conferences, enhancing the organization’s regional and national standing.

    Yu-Fei Duan, MD, PhD
    Medical Director of Adult Service Line and President of Medical Staff

    Child and Adolescent Service Line
    In fiscal 2018, the Child and Adolescent Service Line expanded it services to provide care that is more comprehensive to the children and adolescents we serve.  We started the transitional clinic for step-down patients to ensure they receive timely follow-up care after their discharge from our inpatient units. We also expanded the capacity of our partial hospital programs and started group therapy in the afternoons for our adolescent population either stepping down from inpatient services, partial hospitalization or referred from the community. We also recruited two new physicians, one each for our inpatient unit and partial hospital

    Ehsan Syed, MD
    Medical Director of Child and Adolescent Service Line, Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute

    Advance Practice Providers
    We continue to support the growth of our Advance Practice Providers (APPs), developing a mentoring program for newly hired APPs in the Department of Psychiatry at Penn State Health. This initiative gives APPs the opportunity to provide precepting and shadowing opportunities for Nurse Practitioners (NP) and Physician Assistants (PA) students within the department. We are also increasing the footprint of APPs in psychiatry via presentations at Penn State Heath, Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute and other areas of the community, as well as giving APPs the opportunity to pursue educational and developmental activities.

    Dr. Janet Passley-Clarke, DNP, MS, CRNP, PMH-BC
    Manager Advanced Practice Professional Clinicians-Psychiatry

  • Mothers getting C-sections are opting for non-addictive painkillers.

    In order to combat the opioid crisis, and the overprescription of certain medications, hospitals are making changes, and doctors emphasize the importance of patient education. A new Cleveland Clinic report says mothers undergoing C-sections are increasingly opting for non-opioid painkillers in an effort to fight off even the potential for addiction. ABC 27 interviews Dr Sarah Kawasaki on the use of Opioids.

    View the full story here

  • Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s Health Innovations Program

    Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, Penn State Health and Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Collaborate with Prince of Peace Food Pantry in Steelton to Serve Our Community

  • Mural project to bring color, brighten up hospital walls for teenaged patients

    Mural project to bring color, brighten up hospital walls for teenaged patients

    MAY 24, 2019 | by Yaasmeen Piper |

    Right now, if you stepped inside the adolescent floor of the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute (PPI), you’d be greeted by plain, white, hospital-like walls. Not something teenagers want to look at every day.

    PPI’s Dr. Elisabeth Kunkel decided it was time to change that.

    Read more

  • AAMC CMO Leadership Academy: 2018-2019 Graduates and Cohort 3 Applications Opens June 18

    AAMC CMO Leadership Academy: 2018-2019 Graduates and Cohort 3 Applications Opens June 18

    On May 3rd, the AAMC hosted the second cohort of the CMO Leadership Academy for their final program meeting and graduation. Over the last 18 months, cohort participants actively and purposefully engaged with each other, health care experts, CMOG Steering Committee members, and me to further their executive leadership knowledge and skill development as future academic medicine CMO. It has been a privilege to coach, interact, and mentor these participants and I am happy to have them join the CMO Leadership Academy Community of Practice that also includes our 2017-2018 cohort.

    Read more

  • Advancement in Recovery (AIR) Program

  • INTERIM CEO Announcement, Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute

    INTERIM CEO Announcement, Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute

    Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute (PPI) is pleased to announce it has named Kimberly Feeman, MHA, as its interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) effective Nov. 29, 2018.  Kim will serve as leader of the organization overseeing strategic planning, day-to-day and fiscal operations, and regulatory compliance among other leadership roles.

    Read more

  • Fighting the Opioid Crisis

  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

  • Taking Care of Business 3-24 PA Psychiatric Institute-DBT

    Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute (PPI) offers Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) as an Intensive Outpatient Program for individuals who are needing more support than outpatient therapy alone. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a form of therapy that was developed for individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or individuals who have strong traits of this diagnosis. DBT has also been utilized to treat individuals with drug and alcohol addictions, eating disorders and for pain management.

  • Shaun Mullins at Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute talks to WHP 580 about the CAPSTONE Program

    If you have a teen or young adult dealing with or suffering from Psychosis, there is a new program offered by PSI which is called CAPSTONE. Shawn Mullins, Program Manager for CAPSTONE talks about this program, what makes it unique in the area and how to take advantage of it.

  • PA Psychiatric Institute: Opioid Epidemic

    Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute is helping in the fight against the opioid epidemic by opening a new treatment facility that will offer a range of services to address the complex causes of addiction.

  • Penn State Health to establish medication-assisted opioid treatment program at PPI

    Initiative funded by $1 million grant aimed at combating opioid epidemic across the state

    Penn State Health is leading creation of a new system to ensure people in south central Pennsylvania with opioid use disorder receive the treatment they need. The new system’s “hub-and-spoke” model is aimed at revolutionizing the way the disease is managed by recognizing medication-assisted treatment as the gold standard of care and providing a way to fast-track people with the disorder into treatment.

    The “hub” will be located at Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute (PPI) in Harrisburg, and will provide a wide range of services to address physical and mental health along with case management and legal services. It will serve as a resource for the “spokes,” which include primary care practices that may not be able to treat those with severe opioid use disorder.

    Click here to read the full story »

  • A Conversation with Elisabeth Kunkel

    A Conversation with Elisabeth Kunkel

    Chief Medical Officer, Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute

    Elisabeth Kunkel, 59, was named chief medical officer of Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute in April.

    She also serves on the faculty of Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. She had been with Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia since 1989, serving as its vice chairwoman for clinical affairs from 2002-17.

    Kunkel earned both her bachelor’s degree in psychobiology and doctorate in medicine from McGill University in Canada. She completed her residency at New York University Medical Center and a psychosomatic medicine fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Cornell University Medical College and the American Cancer Society.

    She is in self-described “transition” between Philadelphia and Harrisburg with her husband, George, and two children.

    Q: Your role will include developing new programs related to patient-focused care. What goes into this development?

    A: New programs require adequate staffing both from a provider point of view as well as the staff who support the care. Once you have your team, you can think about where you are best going to serve the people you’re taking care of. Many of our patients get psychiatric care with us but don’t have physical health care, so they might not get their blood pressure checked or their diabetes monitored and so forth. We’re looking at something called reverse integration, where we would bring primary and specialty care into PPI.
    Patient-centered care is doing things that are helpful to patients. Traditional medical care is delivered 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. If your patients work, that is not the most convenient time for them. We think about what they might want, either before work or after work hours for patients who want to maintain employment at the same time they’re taking care of their psychiatric and psychosocial needs.

    Q: PPI helps people with mental health and psychiatric disorders achieve stability in their lives. What are some keys to this balance everyone can apply to their lives?

    A: We teach patients and staff how to deal with crises in a way that calms people down, that doesn’t get them more agitated or stressed. Managing stress is very relevant to the business community. The other thing we talk about is trauma-informed care. If you look at people and, for example, what they post on social networks, they post what is good about their lives, and when you talk behind the scenes you find out people experience a variety of forms of trauma. Understanding what kind of traumatic events they’ve been through can help teach them coping strategies.

    To talk about work-life balance on a bigger scale we need to talk about health-disease balance. In medicine and from a business perspective, to help our employees, we need to shift to thinking about helping people maintain health, prevent disease instead of treating disease once it’s there. That kind of stability has a myriad of payoffs.

    Q: What makes you smile?

    A: In the middle of one of my busiest days I was on our children’s unit, and wound up having a conversation with a young boy. He asked for his Bible, and read me the passage “yea though I walk through the valley of the shadows….” He was struggling with some words, but we stood there in the middle of what was very busy all around us and just focused on him and what he needed to help calm himself down. Then we talked about, what does this mean? It means keeping yourself calm when it’s easy to become part of the chaos. He enjoyed it and I enjoyed it because that’s really what health care is about.

  • ‘Mom, I didn’t steal your dentures’: Coping when dementia turns to delusion

    Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute’s Mature Adult Outpatient Clinic Coordinator, Linda Shumaker, is interviewed.

    Many people think of dementia solely as a condition that causes memory loss.

    That’s one reason family caregivers may be so surprised and upset when older relatives start having major psychiatric symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions or paranoia, even though they are common features of dementia.

    Another reason, said Linda Shumaker, a nurse who works with older adults with behavioral health problems, is that stigma has kept advocates and caregivers from talking openly about psychiatric problems that can increase stress and result in earlier placement in a nursing home.

    Click here to read the full story »

  • Focused on quality clinical care: Department of Psychiatry, Penn State College of Medicine

    The Penn State Department of Psychiatry and the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute are vibrant, academic settings focused on quality clinical care, research and education. At Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, we provide innovative care for patients, educate the healthcare providers and academicians of the future, and produce and disseminate new knowledge in our research programs. Our research mission includes leaders in the fields of addiction, autism, ADHD, mood, and sleep. We are a growing department, and seek faculty to participate in developing premier mental health care for central Pennsylvania.


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