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Gov, Carney signs mental health bills at Sean's House, organization recognized by General Assembly

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Rachel Sawicki
/
Delaware Public Media
State Rep. Valerie Longhurst proudly holds HB303, just signed by Gov. Carney, which requires insurance carriers to cover an annual behavioral wellness check.

Gov. John Carney (D) signed 3 mental health bills Wednesday, implementing more proactive measures to treat mental illness.

Legislators and stakeholders gathered at Sean’s House in Newark for the bill signings. The organization opened its doors in 2020, and has saved 61 young adults from a suicidal situation while speaking with more than 30,000 people concerning mental health and suicide awareness over the past 3 years.

State Rep. Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) prime sponsor to the package of bills, says Sean’s House is an example of the approach lawmakers hope Delaware continues to take to addressing mental health early.

“This extraordinary nonprofit organization offers access to trained peer support specialists and community health resources," she said. "A location to do schoolwork, a place to meet friends. By having a location young adults feel safe, welcomed, supported.”

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Rachel Sawicki
/
Delaware Public Media
Governor John Carney signs a package of mental health bills in Newark at Sean's House.

One bill, HB 300, establish mental health service units for Delaware middle schools. over the next three years, it will boost the number of mental health professionals in middle schools to have one full-time school counselor, school social worker, or licensed clinical social worker for every 250 students and one school psychologist for every 700 students.

The bill is similar to one signed last year, which did the same in elementary schools an Longhurst says more is in the works.

“So today, we're moving upstream and doing preventative measures in the state of Delaware," Longhurst said. "We can no longer afford to go downstream. So today we are unlocking that light and we are going to make a difference and we will make it happen. And you will see next year I will be bringing forth another set of mental health issues or legislation and all these people behind me will be with me.”

Two other bills will implement statewide mental health educational programs for grades K-12 and will require insurance carriers to cover an annual wellness check, starting at the beginning of 2023.

“Every dollar invested in mental health can yield up to 10 times the savings in healthcare, criminal and juvenile justice and lost productivity," Longhurst said.

Coverage for annual wellness checks begin at the beginning of 2023.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.