State Rep. Tammy Exum of West Hartford is pushing to ensure that historic children’s mental health legislation passed in 2022 is also funded in the upcoming biennial budget.
State Rep. Tammy Exum (D-West Hartford, Avon), a co-author of HB 5001, which along with SB 1 and SB 2 was one of three historic and sweeping children’s mental health bills passed in 2022 by the Connecticut General Assembly and signed into the law by Gov. Ned Lamont one year ago today, wants to ensure funding is in the upcoming biennial budget to continue to implement the most important aspects of the groundbreaking legislation.
“Legislation in recognition of the children’s mental health crisis was a bipartisan priority and victory last session, which is why it should be an easy bipartisan budget inclusion this session, so that progress doesn’t evaporate,” said Exum. “We can’t tell children and parents that we saw and heard them in 2022 only to turn away and cover our ears in 2023.”
HB 5001 was a direct response to support the children’s behavioral health system in Connecticut. For years, children and teens have been experiencing increased rates of depression, self-harm and suicide attempts, and that spilled over to cause a significant strain on the system. HB 5001 sought to enhance the state’s behavioral health workforce and school-based mental health services, expand mental health treatment facilities statewide and increase access to help through insurance coverage. It also creates a partnership with Connecticut Children’s, provides funding for recruitment and retention of child and adolescent psychologists, creates a new pilot program for a federally qualified health center in Waterbury to treat adolescents with behavioral health needs and requires insurers to cover collaborative care services.
Exum will host a Children’s Mental Health Parent Forum on Thursday, May 25 from 9-10:30 a.m. in Room 310 at the State Capitol. The recent Connecticut School Health Survey reflected a significant increase in youth reporting that they felt sad and hopeless and fewer teens who felt like they could get the help when they need it.
At the forum, people will hear from parents who are waiting for their child to receive mental health services, and from providers who will share concrete actions that policymakers can take to reduce wait times and increase services for families. There will also be discussion to address how to improve access to children’s mental health services.
Exum, who is Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee and a Deputy Majority Leader, hopes lawmakers follow through on the promise they made to address the children’s mental crisis.
“I want to finish what we started with HB 5001 and the two Senate bills last year by prioritizing funding for children’s mental health,” said Exum.
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