Consortium moves to state capital to discuss solutions to mental health, addiction crisis
A new series of open public forums meant to address addiction in The First State made its way to Dover Wednesday night. Addiction and mental health have become a national issue that has hit Delaware particularly hard, and many hope these discussions lead to long lasting solutions.
It's all part of Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long's Behavioral Health Consortium. Tuesday night, a public forum held in Wilmington led to a packed crowd.
The open forum brings together members of the community with leaders in mental health, law enforcement, education and more. Discussions range from solutions for treating those recovering from addiction, to law enforcement and changes in their strategy to fight the epidemic of addiction.
"We also meet many people who suffer from addiction to these drugs. And part of this is to get ideas of what we can do with those individuals to get treatment rather than arresting them over and over and over again," says Charles Sawchenko, Lieutenant with Troop 3 in Delaware State Police.
Down to the most vulnerable, the children of The First State, and how schools respond to addiction and mental health.
"We have seen a significant increase in student attendance, a decrease in behavior, we've seen academics improve," said Michele Marinucci, director of student services with Woodbridge School District. "And with some of our students that we know have a more significant needs, getting them the therapeutic support they need has definitely made a difference for them as well."
The hope is these public forums can lead to solutions to help Delaware get clean.
Hall-Long describes these public forums are a way to create a 'roadmap' to attain realistic, non-expensive solutions in the short term and the long term.
She says after the successful meetings in Wilmington and Dover, there will be more meetings to come in the future, following the original four community forum dates. She believes the solutions Delaware finds for mental health and addiction will be a model for neighboring states in the future.
"We're going to have more than four. After last night we had such an outpouring in Wilmington we're going to be going back and I have a feeling we're going to be going into other sections in Kent… We're hoping that we have tonight the beginning of a roadmap to solutions and we need the community to come out."
The consortium will move to Georgetown next Thursday at the public library at 6 PM.