In South Philly, a long-hidden heroin crisis can’t be ignored anymore

Article by Aubrey Whelan.

In South Philadelphia, a community of tight neighborhoods and strong traditions, a long-hidden opioid crisis is starting to reveal itself.

At Broad and Snyder Streets, next to a booming restaurant row and a major transit hub, Destinie Campanella makes her rounds. She lugs a bag full of Narcan, the overdose reversal drug, and water bottles to the corner where a few people in addiction sleep on cardboard mattresses. It's a sight familiar a few miles away in the open-air heroin scene of Kensington, but not here.

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MHP in the NewsNed Redmond
"Almost Home" now on view!

MHP, in partnership with Mural Arts' Porchlight program, hosted our ribbon cutting ceremony on August 28th. The mural is a fantastic testament to the work that we do as ambassadors of hope and of the resilience and power of the individuals with whom we partner.

The mural is designed by artists Eric Okdeh and Alvin Tull and created in partnership with Mental Health Partnership’s A New Life Recovery and Education Center in West Philadelphia, and is now viewable at 885 N Preston Street in West Philly. 

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AnnouncementNed Redmond
Philadelphia Inquirer: Council MIA as overdose-crisis advocates march on City Hall. So I knock on doors.

“They blocked traffic. They held signs. They spoke of dead friends.

But the march for safe injection sites outside City Hall on Wednesday was encouraging — simply because advocates were bringing the fight downtown.

Of course, the politicians managed to hide anyway.

With 1,217 people dead from overdoses here in 2017, the highest rate of any major city, not a single City Council member bothered to show his or her face — if not in support of safe injection sites, at least in support of finding other measures to keep people alive.”

MHP’s own Carla Sofronski and Destinie Campanella are featured in the coverage of this protest.

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Pennsylvania DHS General Assistance is Back!

The following was announced by Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers' Association:

PMHCA was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the PA Department of Human Services that resulted in a unanimous PA Supreme Court decision to again make General Assistance available to people in Pennsylvania. The Mental Health Association in PA, a partner in many advocacy efforts, was also one of the several plaintiffs. Disability Rights PA represented our concerns about Act 80, a piece of legislation passed in 2012 during the Corbett administration which eliminated the General Assistance category.

Community Legal Services prepared a fact sheet providing this information.

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Farewell, Joseph and Susan!

Two titans of our world, Joseph and Susan Rogers retired from MHP today, June 29, 2018.  We celebrate this new chapter in each of their lives and are humbled and grateful for the decades of advocacy, leadership and powerful change that they authored not only for themselves, but alongside thousands of individuals living with a mental health condition.  Together, they insisted that we believe in hope, that our belief required action and then paved the way for us to build a bridge to hope -- through peer support, community inclusion, and demanding a seat at the table. Today, because of their work, thousands of people diagnosed with a mental health condition are living the lives they had always imagined for themselves.

Thank you, Joseph and Susan!  We wish you the best!

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Our Statement on Family Separation

Mental Health Partnerships (MHP) is shocked and horrified by the atrocities and human rights violations happening to families and children attempting to cross the United States southern border. Michael Brody, President and CEO of MHP, released the following statement in response:

“The traumatic events that the children and families are experiencing will impact their mental, physical and emotional health for years to come. Separating young children from their families, and forcing them to live in cages, will have long lasting effects on the parent-child relationship, and the children’s ability to form attachments. Extensive research shows the negative impact that trauma and toxic stress have on the brain despite the resilience of children, including experiencing symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder.

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The Poor People's Campaign

The Poor People's Campaign is a continuation of the nonviolent action started by Martin Luther King Jr. fifty years ago. He and others invited people who had been divided to stand together against the “triplets of evil”—militarism, racism, and economic injustice—to insist that people need not die from poverty in the richest nation ever to exist. 

In 2018, hundreds of organizations and thousands of people have gathered together to stand against poverty and inequality, ecological devastation, systemic racism and the war economy and militarism. May started the beginning of 40 days of moral nonviolent action in over 40 state capitals across the country. The campaign will end on June 23rd in Washington D.C. in a mass rally to Stand Against Poverty. 

Learn more about the campaign and how to become involved at

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Ned Redmond
2017 Annual Report

See what we accomplished together!

The hope-building we do, together with our many partners, is not something that’s easily defined, measured, and evaluated. Nor is it easily shared with people secondhand. That doesn’t mean we won’t keep trying to show the impact of hope in action. Indeed, the data and the myriad stories from our partners are both the result of and source for hope.

As an organization and movement built on hope and great achievements, it’s no surprise we look toward 2018 with such anticipation.

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What Philly drug users are teaching us about solving the overdose crisis

Mental Health Partnerships, a city-contracted nonprofit that provides behavioral health services, has conducted their outreach and survey efforts in Kensington’s homeless camps. While those results are not yet published, the organization’s findings line up with the health department’s survey, said Stephanie Jamison, MHP’s organizational learning and development manager.

“The housing crisis is a health crisis,” Jamison said. “The survey indicates that 59 percent of respondents have recently participated in drug treatment,” Jamison said. “Providers need to make stable housing a central focus of their treatment and support services. No one should be discharged from an inpatient or residential treatment setting without a solid plan for stable housing.”

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MHP's Own Kathy Laws Receives Montgomery County Mental Health Award

Kathy Laws (Family & Youth) was the recipient of the prestigious Dr. Robert H. Miller Award, given annually to one individual "who has made a long term commitment to the field and whose involvement, service and contributions to the improvement of the quality of life of persons with mental illness is noteworthy and exceptional." Kathy was recognized for her passion, advocacy, and trail-blazing efforts on behalf of Families and Youth.

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City Moves People Out of Homeless Camps

The city moved people out from the homeless encampments in Kensington Wednesday as part of a program to fix the area's opioid epidemic. Those living there were offered shelter and treatment programs.

Source: Published Wednesday, May 30, 2018 | Credit: Miguel Martinez-Valle

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