HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Flanked by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, Gov. Ned Lamont ceremonially signed three massive mental health bills Wednesday at the capitol. The price tag to start the initiatives is pegged at tens of millions of dollars.
Lawmakers say the mental health bills are an investment in our children’s mental well-being. Mental health issues have touched every income level and demographic.
Rep. Tammy Exum a democrat from West Hartford who helped craft the bills said, “We have created benchmark legislation that is already being recognized by other states.”
Republicans and Democrats say it was important to go big.
“A child with mental illness is not inherently dangerous,” added state Rep. Liz Linehan a Democrat from Cheshire who chaired the Committee on Children.
Each bill adds sweeping changes that could save lives.
State Senator Doug McCrory of Hartford said his city recently lost two young boys to suicide, “13-years old and they gave up on their life.”
Among the new measures; school nurses can give Narcan to students in an emergency without parental permission. Mental Health Addiction Services will make mobile crisis services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Department of Children and Families will use social determinants funds to help to qualify families to pay for mental health treatment for children.
The Board of Education will also be able to withhold recess as a form of student discipline for those who pose a danger. Mental Health Plans for student-athletes will be required as well as a Family Care Coordinator in school districts to navigate help. 36-new school-based mental health clinics will also be opened.
“When a loved one is afflicted, we need to make sure that the access and the services are available so that the window of opportunity doesn’t close,” said State Sen. Kevin Kelly the Republican Minority Leader from Stratford.
Providers licensed in other states can now work in our state with a waiver. There is a grant program for districts to hire more mental health workers. Classroom teachers can now request behavior intervention meetings for disruptive students. A crisis intervention team can hold a child who may show harmful behavior. $300-million dollars will be used to pay for the programming.
“Using the American Rescue Plan Act money for this programing was paramount and us being able to get these resources out to the children,” added State Rep. Tammy Nuccio a Republican from Tolland.
All public colleges and universities will now have to include the National Suicide Prevention
Lifeline number on student ID cards as well.
For More information log onto the Connecticut general assembly website to view the language of the new laws.
• Public Act 22-80 (Senate Bill 1), An Act Concerning Childhood Mental Health and Physical Health Services in Schools
• Public Act 22-81 (Senate Bill 2), An Act Expanding Preschool and Mental and Behavioral Services for Children
• Public Act 22-47 (House Bill 5001), An Act Concerning Children’s Mental Health