Governor Carney Signed Multiple Pieces of Legislation Related to Mental Health

Photo: Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)

Joined by Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik, Children’s Department Secretary Josette Manning, additional members of the General Assembly, educators and advocates, Governor Carney on Wednesday signed three pieces of legislation related to mental health in the backyard of Sean’s House, a mental health haven in Newark for young people.

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Rep. Longhurst, who is the prime sponsor on all three bills said, “We can no longer choose to look the other way.” According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five youth are affected by a mental health disorder. Additionally, 50% of lifetime mental illnesses begin by age 14.

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The bills signed in law are:

• House Bill 300, which establishes a mental health services unit for Delaware middle schools. The unit will be phased in over three years. “The fact of the matter is that we don’t have the professionals to take the job positions that we’re funding,” Governor Carney said. “To those of you who work in this field, we need your help.”

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• House Amendment 1 for House Bill 301 which implements statewide mental health educational programs for each grade, kindergarten through grade 12. Sen. Sarah McBride, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, thanked advocates for pushing the legislation by turning their pain into purpose. “Today, we turned their purpose into policy and progress.”

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• House Amendment 2 for House Bill 303, which requires coverage for an annual behavioral health wellness check. “The need for accessible mental health care has never been greater,” said Sen. Nicole Poore, who sponsored the bill in the Senate. The requirement for coverage of the behavioral health well check is effective Jan. 1, 2023.

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Annie Slease, director of advocacy & education for NAMI Delaware, said, “These laws will save lives.” She thanked the Governor for prioritizing children’s mental health care.

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If you or a loved one in Delaware is struggling with a behavioral health issue, call DHSS’ 24/7 Delaware Hope Line at 1-833-9-HOPEDE (1-833-946-7333) or visit HelpIsHereDE.com.

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