The Bulletin Board

Young Democratic Caucus pushes Sununu on mental health care spending

By: - May 21, 2021 11:05 am
State House dome blocks out the sun

The House is set to vote on House Bill 1390 this week. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

The House Young Democratic Caucus called on Gov. Chris Sununu Friday to move quickly on using $10.7 million in new federal aid to expand mental health care across the state. The lawmakers also said they’ll be introducing legislation next session to give minors more mental health options, bolster counseling in schools, and recruit mental health workers to the state.

“It is clear that we need to expand New Hampshire’s mental health infrastructure,” said Rep. Stephanie Hyland, a Francestown Democrat. “The American Rescue Plan funding can bolster crisis care options that would avoid traumatizing trips to the ER and long waiting lists for psychiatric care.”

The federal delegation announced Tuesday that New Hampshire would receive the money, which also covers expanded substance abuse treatment. While Sununu issued an executive order last week announcing immediate improvements to the state’s mental health system, he has not shared many specifics. And it remains unclear how the state will use this money or the nearly $16 million in federal aid previously awarded to the state in COVID-19 relief money. 

The joint House and Senate Fiscal Committee has said it will meet early next month to make spending decisions.

The House Young Democratic Caucus has several recommendations, including more community mental health options; more mental health workers; additional treatment beds; and expanded broadband access for telehealth options. They also want to see the statewide mobile crisis response unit that was passed and funded in 2019 implemented. The state has said it is talking with providers but has not awarded a contract.

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.