Director of Mental Health Coordinates Inmate Care

Lebanon Valley College psychology graduate Abbey Cassidy is the director of mental health at Bucks County Correctional Facility.

Dr. Abbey Hershey Cassidy ’02 would have laughed if you told her freshman self that she would become the director of mental health at a correctional facility. Growing up as a shy and quiet person, Cassidy never planned on pursuing a role that required regular interaction with court judges, wardens, attorneys, and other directors. 

“I don’t think I would have ever thought I would end up in a leadership position,” Cassidy reflected. “When I started at LVC, I had no idea what career I wanted to chase. All I knew was that I wanted to pursue a job that would help others.”

Cassidy first gained an interest in psychology during a behavioral science class in high school. Having a few close friends who went through suicidal periods, Cassidy was motivated to learn more about the topic and how she could help them. 

Once at LVC, Cassidy began to explore her options and grew as a person with the help of Professor Lou Laguna. 

“Dr. Laguna was my internship supervisor at LVC, and I learned a lot from him. He played a role in my decision to go for my doctorate, and he was very supportive through the process of applying to grad schools,” Cassidy said. 

During her junior year, Cassidy accepted an internship at Philhaven in the inpatient unit. There, Cassidy interacted with patients and cross-trained in the child/adolescent unit. 

After becoming a licensed clinical psychologist in 2010, Cassidy accepted a part-time job at the Bucks County Correctional Facility and has remained with the organization ever since. She eventually earned a full-time position in 2016 as the director of mental health, which includes administrative and clinical duties.

Cassidy supervises the department, provides clinical supervision, and works closely with the medical department to coordinate care for inmates. She also conducts court-ordered psychological evaluations, offers suicide prevention training for corrections officers, and some direct clinical care.

As Cassidy moves forward, she hopes to continue providing suicide prevention training and become more involved in teaching forensic psychology. 

“With the jail population increasing in the number of inmates who present with severe mental illnesses, I find one of the most rewarding parts of my job is to stabilize these inmates and coordinate care so they can successfully transition back into the community,” said Cassidy.