Mental health groups ask governor for more money, incentives for new hires
Therapists say they cannot keep up with the demand for mental help assistance as the pandemic lingers and surges.
"The Who has something called, 'The Kids Are Alright,' Well, the kids are not alright, and the parents are not alright," said Steve Wanczyk-Karp, of the National Association of Social Workers Connecticut.
Domestic violence arraignments jumped 15% since 2019, juvenile crime spiked last year and 75% of inmates need mental care. Understaffed therapists say they can't keep up.
"It gets so bad that parents end up saying, 'I don't have a choice. I either have to go to the ER.' Some feel like they might have to relinquish custody of their children because they don't know what to do," said Deborah Dorfman, of Disability Right Connecticut.
Help is on the way. The state is expanding Mobile Crisis Centers to 24 hours a day.
Connecticut is also considering paying counselors incentives to move to the state, helping them with tuition and even exploring alternatives to expensive four-year degree programs. State licensing fees could also be lowered.
The state House Speaker Matt Ritter says mental health is his top priority when lawmakers head back to Hartford next month.
"We need to put more money into both the public workers and hire more workers. We need more money into the private sector. We have to make it easier to allow folks to provide telemedicine, so that people can be reached in their homes where they are, where they want to be," he said.
State lawmakers go back to Hartford on Feb. 9.