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Lawmakers taking on mental health issues late in the session

Delaware Public Media

A bevy of bills are hitting the General Assembly late this session in the hopes of addressing Delaware’s mental health and substance abuse crisis.

The group of four bills is wide-ranging, addressing issues from postpartum depression to creating a new commission that will track and assess how the state is improving access to in and outpatient care.


“Make no mistake. This is a health crisis and it cuts through every demographic, every zip code and tragically, every age group," said Senate Pro Tem Patricia Blevins (D-Elsmere), who co-chaired a task force on the subject.


Most immediately, lawmakers are hoping to allow newly released prisoners to immediately enroll in Medicaid for health care coverage.


“It can take several weeks, months to get back on Medicaid, and if they want to get treatment, they have no insurance," said Sen. Bethany Hall-Long (D-Middletown), another task force co-chair. "Now, obviously, treatment has to come from within. Having insurance doesn’t dictate a change of behavior, but if you’re suddenly released from prison and you don’t have insurance…this is a way they can get back on.”


New mothers showing signs of depression would also be given information on how to cope with the condition and treatment resources available as they’re leaving the hospital.


A new commission would also have oversight over the state’s behavioral and mental health system, as well as a suicide prevention coalition.


These bills will be introduced in the coming days.