Pew file photo

WDEL file photo, April 2019

A multi-year plan to improve Delaware's network of care for people affected by the opioid crisis or mental health issues has resulted in significant progress. 

The Behavioral Health Consortium is also looking to overcome remaining stigma, address problems with insurance coverage and to identify and serve populations that are disproportionately affected by these issues.

In its latest progress report, the BRC said it had met a large percentage of its first-year goals.

The Consortium encountered a fractured system of care when it was formed. After a series of meetings held statewide, it developed 117 recommendations.

"We did put a lot this year into expanding 'wrap-around' -- access to beds and services... letting people know who to call, when to call to get treatment," Lieutenant Governor Bethanny Hall-Long said. "We have a long way to still go."

"We've done a lot with our veterans. We have spent a lot of time with our homeless, those persons with disabilities and family members who are taking care of individuals with Alzheimer's or those parents who have children with early diagnosed problems or Autism,"  Hall-Long said.

Overdose still claims a life in Delaware every 22 hours on average.

The state established the nation's first Overdose System of Care, designed to create a seamless transition of care for people who survive an overdose. A Mental Health Parity initiative requires insurance companies to report on mental health coverage. Also, coverage for Medication Assisted Treatment was added to health parity laws that govern health insurance.

"It is gratifying to see all the progress that the Consortium has made in such a short time, and I look forward to furthering our efforts in the coming year," Delaware Director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Elizabeth Romero said. Romero is co-chair of the Consortium.

"The Behavioral Health Consortium has brought together leaders from across our state and elevated the public awareness and action around the addiction epidemic," Representative David Bentz (D- Christiana) said. "I am thankful for its robust plan and focus on behavioral health needs not only as a legislator and consortium member, but as a Delaware resident."

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.