Volunteer Spotlight: Emily Pressley

With a four-person staff (three are part time), our mission to improve youth mental health is accomplished through our more than 30 dedicated volunteers. Volunteers like Emily Pressley, DO.

She is the chief medical officer of Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital. After 20 years as a nurse (most of that time spent in mental health), she became a psychiatrist. Dr. Pressley attended medical school at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her internship at Community Hospital of Lancaster and her psychiatric residency at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Emily has served LOHF in several roles over the years, including board chair. She is currently Chair of our Talent Pipeline Committee. She and her colleague and fellow Talent Pipeline Committee member, Karen Bramley, LCSW, recently presented a continuing education training to our Clinical Supervision Collaborative about their work at Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, providing inpatient mental health care. We are extremely grateful for Emily’s many contributions to our mission.

What motivates you to volunteer your time and talents with LOHF?
I believe that LOHF fulfills an important need in the community to assist in the education of health care professionals, particularly those going into mental health fields. The mission of LOHF is especially important now as we experience a shortage of health professionals in the setting of a growing need.

How have your personal and/or professional experiences informed your volunteer service to LOHF?
I have worked in the mental health field now for over 40 years (both as a nurse and a psychiatrist) and have lived in the Lancaster area for that length of time. So, I have personally experienced the challenges of providing enough services to individuals of all ages with mental health needs. I also have a special interest in the foundation since I worked at Community Hospital as a nurse and trained there as an intern after medical school. I appreciate the commitment that osteopathic physicians have had to this community, and it was their vision that created LOHF.

What has been the most impactful or memorable result of LOHF’s work that you have seen during your involvement with LOHF?
The education of increasing numbers of nurses to serve the Lancaster community and now the new program to support the clinical training of therapists. There is a growing shortage of well-trained professionals for a growing population with social, physical, and mental health challenges.

What is the most encouraging thing you see on the horizon to improve mental well-being for youth and children in Lancaster County?
More educational programs for parenting, and early detection and intervention for children with emotional or behavioral problems, and support for families to stay intact to provide nurturing environments for their children. Is there something that would be surprising or fun to know about you?

My son and his wife teach internationally, and my husband and I enjoy visiting them in the many places they have lived. They recently moved to Japan, and we hope to see them and our 6-year-old granddaughter over Christmas (if Covid restrictions allow).