Governor Sununu signs bill to improve 'almost inhumane' mental health and DCYF in NH
CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu has signed a comprehensive bill aimed at strengthening mental health treatment as well as better protections for children in the DCYF system.
HB 400 was signed Wednesday morning in Peggy Straw Hall at the National Alliance on Mental Illness building in Concord. Executive Director of NAMI Ken Norton choked up when talking about the visits Sen. Chuck Morse, Sen. Jeb Bradley, House Speaker Shawn Jasper and Sununu made to Concord Hospital to speak with patients, families and providers and to better understand the mental health crisis in the state.
"I'll say for myself and for many NAMI New Hampshire and stakeholders who have watched loved ones suffer with mental illness that those visits are deeply meaningful now and as we look to the future," Norton said.
Sununu spoke calling HB400 "a first step" but not the last step. He says they will continue to work to fix the issues surrounding mental health and reforming the Division for Children, Youth and Families.
He says the way current laws are written, when mental health patients end up at a hospital they receive little care.
"When someone is waiting in an emergency room there's an assumption that they are getting treatment, and it's not because the hospitals don't want to help or can't help, the statutory prevention just allows them to be maintained," Sununu says, calling it "almost inhumane."
Much of the HB 400 that deals with DCYF involves trying to prevent any child from falling through the cracks in the system.
"If there is a pattern of concern, even if they may be unfounded in the past, we are going to make sure we're keeping an eye on these cases," Sununu says. "These aren't 'cases.' Whether you're talking about mental illness or kids and families going through the DCYF system, these are individuals. These are the people of our state."
HB 400 covers many issues. You can read the full bill here.