May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a time to work together to stop the stigma surrounding mental health and create a more understanding and compassionate community.

Locally, Center for Population Health (CPH) is spearheading work to improve mental health and mental health provider knowledge in Cambria and Somerset counties. In 2023, CPH launched a mental health consortium for behavioral health providers to meet and share challenges and opportunities for collaboration. One of the first initiatives of the consortium was the launch of a Project ECHO educational series in collaboration with Penn State College of Medicine.

Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is an internationally recognized, evidence-based approach to continuing education and tele-mentoring that leverages the power of sharing knowledge across miles and across disciplines.

The goal of the Consortium’s Psychiatry/Behavioral Health ECHO for Cambria and Somerset counties is to provide local practitioners with the knowledge and resources needed to meet the needs of patients with behavioral health disorders. Sessions connect a multi-disciplinary team of specialists with community providers on a variety of behavioral health-related topics, with discussions of de-identified cases to develop recommendations and considerations for care.

1889 Foundation provided funding to support this initiative.

The need for the Psychiatry/Behavioral Health ECHO is clear when looking at the yearly County Health Rankings. In April, County Health Rankings and Roadmaps released new data that includes mental health days and mental health providers.

Cambria and Somerset County residents have reported that their mental health was “not good” on 5.5 days (Cambria) and 5.1 days (Somerset) of the previous 30 days, according to those rankings. Both counties show higher numbers than Pennsylvania at 4.7 days and the United States at 4.8 days.

While the two counties do have higher numbers than the state and the country, it’s not drastically different; however, there is a very large discrepancy between the two counties’ mental health provider numbers when compared to the Commonwealth and the United States.

In Cambria County there are 440 people in Cambria County to 1 mental health provider and Somerset County has 710 people to 1 mental health provider. In comparison, Pennsylvania has 370 mental health providers to 1 person and the United States has 320 mental health providers to 1 person.

To help boost your mental health, follow some of these tips from Mental Health America:

  • Track gratitude and achievement with a journal
  • Start your day with a cup of coffee
  • Show some love to someone in your life
  • Take time to life
  • Relax in a warm bath
  • Work some omega-3 fatty acids into your diet (wild salmon, flaxseeds, or walnuts)
  • Take a walk in nature

For more tips, visit 31 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health | Mental Health America (

Remember to wear green this month to raise awareness for mental health.


County Health Rankings & Roadmaps

31 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health | Mental Health America (