House Bill 200
152nd General Assembly (Present)
House Appropriations 5/4/23
Committee Hearing takes place within twelve legislative days.
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO SCHOOL-BASED MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES.
This Act establishes a mental health services unit for Delaware high schools. The unit is phased in over 3 years, beginning in FY2024, to arrive at a final ratio of 250 full-time equivalent students grades 9-12 for a full-time school counselor, school social worker, or licensed clinical social worker. Additionally, a unit ratio of 700 full time equivalent students for grades 9-12 for employment of a full-time school psychologist. This Act defines “mental health services” as prevention, response, and coordination services delivered to students in high schools. Mental Health disorders are the most common health problem for school aged youth. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one in five youth are affected by a mental health disorder. Additionally, 50% of lifetime mental illnesses begin by age 14. Untreated mental illness leads to negative outcomes including increased risk of dropout, homelessness, substance abuse, other chronic illnesses, incarceration, and possibly suicide. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, ninety percent of people who have taken their own life have had an underlying mental health condition, and suicides are on the rise. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicides are now the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-14. Delaware schools need trained and experienced mental health professionals to provide prevention and support programs and services to students. This bill will lower ratios of students to counselors and increase access to mental health services for high school students. Districts and charters should prioritize the hiring of school counselors who provide mental health services over those who provide career counseling. Conforming changes are also made to code sections dealing with mental health units for elementary and middle school students. This Act also creates a reimbursement program to encourage current school employees to gain certifications or professional licensure in critical need mental health areas.
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Takes effect upon being signed into law