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Philadelphia Mayoral Candidate Rebecca Rhynhart on the Mental Health Crisis

May 1, 2023

Philadelphians will go to the ballot box this November to elect their 100th mayor. The city’s next mayor will inherit what President Joe Biden has described as a “mental health crisis.” It is imperative that voters know how the candidates will respond to the crisis upon taking office. As the region’s leader in individual, couples, and family therapy, we contacted all current candidates to better understand their strategies for tackling this crisis. We will publish all candidates’ responses as is.

Note: Council for Relationships, a nonprofit organization, does not endorse any political candidate.

The Philadelphia municipal primary is May 16, 2023, and the municipal election is November 7, 2023. Click here to learn more about the important election dates and how to register to vote.

Today we welcome the City Controller of Philadelphia, Rebecca Rhynhart (D). Read on to learn what Rebecca Rhynhart’s administration would do to address the mental health crisis in Philadelphia.

Portrait of Rebecca Rhynhart looking directly at the camera with a smile and her arms crossed. She has long brown hair and is wearing a dark blazer and light shirt. She is against a backdrop of a building and street.

Mayoral candidate, Rebecca Rhynhart (pictured here), currently serves as the City Controller of Philadelphia.

How will your administration address the mental health and emotional wellness needs of Philadelphia? Describe your vision for building stronger relationships among and within families and communities.

One of the most important ways that the next mayor can help build stronger relationships among Philadelphia’s families and communities is to make investments that will lead to greater emotional and economic stability so that individuals can achieve wholeness where that may be lacking. For instance, by fully funding parks, recreation centers, and libraries, we can create more opportunities to nurture residents intellectually and physically. I will also make it a priority to meet the needs of our residents by correcting inequities in city service delivery between our neighborhoods, including 911 response times and on-time trash pick up so that none of our neighborhoods are left behind.

I have comprehensive plans for improving public education, decreasing violence, increasing access to affordable housing, and creating pathways to economic stability for residents, which are all available on my website. My public safety plan includes details about how the city can support trauma treatment to decrease instances of violence and other crimes. I will also make sure that our city’s health clinics are well-funded and have the capacity to service all of our neighborhoods, especially the areas that have historically been targets of disinvestment. All of these factors contribute to building stability for families and communities to will fulfill their needs such that they can build stronger interpersonal relationships with one another.

Describe your plan to make mental health care accessible to all Philadelphians, particularly for Philadelphia’s Black community, who disproportionally lack access to mental health care.

Under my administration, every neighborhood school will have wraparound services provided by city agencies available to our kids, including mental health treatment. As Mayor, I will expand the capacity of our neighborhood health centers to include culturally competent trauma care and will make sure they have the funding required to do so.

It’s also crucial that our city departments and programs that provide mental health and trauma services have the resources and staffing necessary to reach residents in our neighborhoods where these services are most greatly needed. We need to make sure that trauma care is deployed throughout our neighborhoods, especially in the 14 zip codes where the rates of gun violence are the highest.

Further, I would implement intervention strategies proven to be effective in other cities that reach the people most at risk of shooting or being shot in Philadelphia and offer them a way out of the lifestyle with mentorship, therapy, job training, and employment, working with community anti-violence leaders that have shown success in our neighborhoods. Successful implementation requires a coordinated effort and collaboration between the Mayor, other members of the criminal justice system, and relevant stakeholders outside of city government, including community leaders, clergy, nonprofits, and the criminal justice system.

With President Biden naming the “tackling of the mental health crisis” as a priority for his administration, describe your plan to address the growing mental health crisis youth face in the city and what role government agencies such as the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbilities Services (DBHIDS) will play in addressing the youth mental health crisis.

The foundation of mental and emotional wellness begins in childhood. The Rhynhart Administration will ensure that all of our city services are aligned to meet the needs of our kids by providing wraparound services in our neighborhood schools. That includes the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbilities providing mental health services and trauma-informed counselors to students who need those resources. My full education plan envisions a transformative, kid-centered approach where equity is a key priority. The full plan can be found at on my campaign website and provides more detail about how this imperative around mental and emotional wellness will be implemented.

A Note from CFR

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Other Mayoral Candidate Responses

Philadelphia Mayoral Candidate David Oh on the Mental Health Crisis

Philly Mayoral Candidate Helen Gym on the Mental Health Crisis

Philly Mayoral Candidate Jimmy DeLeon on the Mental Health Crisis