New Del. Laws Address Mental Health of Children, Adults
Improvements to mental health and mental health services are coming in Delaware.
Governor John Carney has signed three bills passed by the Delaware General Assembly, which address concerns of children as well as adults.
One measure (House Bill 300) allows middle schools to hire more counselors, social workers and school psychologists, building on a previous measure to improve services in elementary schools.
“We are in the midst of a mental health crisis in Delaware that began well before the pandemic and has only accelerated in the last two years. Anyone who has paid attention to this issue should be alarmed at the especially brutal toll this crisis has taken on our children,” House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear said. “Teachers across the state are seeing it every day in their classrooms. So many of their students come to school with significant unmet needs that impact their ability to learn, such as hunger, homelessness, trauma, and other untreated mental health issues. Without adequate resources to support our students, these challenges create the kind of disruptions in school that impact learning and affect all students.”
Another bill that was signed Wednesday (House Bill 303) would guarantee insurance coverage for an annual Behavioral Wellness Check.
“We can’t begin to address the mental health crisis in this nation until we make sure everyone has access to affordable mental health services,” State Senator Nicole Poore, D-New Castle – Delaware City said. “This legislation takes a major step forward in that effort by making Behavioral Health Well Check as routine and accessible as an annual visit to your primary care doctor. I want to commend Rep. Longhurst for putting mental health at the center of her legislative agenda for the welfare of all Delawareans.”
Also, the Department of Education will be required to establish a statewide mental health educational curriculum for grades K- through twelve under House Bill 301. The curriculum would be tailored to the developmental needs of students at each grade level.
“While so many people experience their first mental health crisis as a child or teen, our society has long been slow to recognize those early experiences and is often ill-prepared to provide young people with the tools and support they need, which only serves to reinforce many of the stigmas that prevent young people and adults from seeking treatment,” State Senator Sarah McBride, D-Wilmington -Claymont said.