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First State's Behavioral Health Consortium makes wide-ranging recommendations

Nick Ciolino / Delaware Public Media
Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long

Delaware’s Behavioral Health Consortium is making recommendations to Gov. John Carney on how the state can combat addiction and improve mental health.

The Behavioral Health Consortium is a group of health professionals, law enforcement and politicians formed by Gov. Carney back in October of last year. After five meetings the group is submitting a list of more than 100 recommended state health policy changes to implement over the next three years.

Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long is head of the Consortium. She says that while the report addresses many aspects of mental health it prioritizes combating the opioid crisis. One of the immediate needs to “stop the bleeding,” she says, is starting an overdose system of care.   

“When a ... first responder, fire personnel, emergency personnel, ambulance driver goes to a home and somebody has used Narcan and overdosed that we don’t just repeat going back there with police and law enforcement, but we get them actual treatment,” said Hall-Long.

The recommendations also include funding more detox beds and sober living facilities. This plea echoes the requests of several in legislative hall, as well as Attorney General Matt Denn and advocacy groups like atTAck addiction.

“We are actually asking for an increase in detox beds, an increase in residential beds, increase in intensive outpatient treatment and an increase in sober living and residential transition. Very important that we do that,” said Hall-Long.

The request for funding comes as legislators work to craft next year’s budget. Gov. Carney says there’s currently more than $20 million in the budget for treatment and he is looking into adding to that.

Other recommendations in the report include: starting a statewide campaign to try to bring an end to the stigma associated with behavioral health issues, exploring treatment options rather than prison time for those convicted with a behavioral health diagnosis and working on addiction prevention from preschool to adulthood.

95 people have died this year in Delaware of suspected drug overdoses.

Anyone seeking treatment for addiction can visit the “help is here” website.

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