Bill to increase in-patient mental health treatment

Apr 27, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

This week the Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on a bill amendment that would increase in-patient treatment options for individuals in mental health crisis in New Hampshire. 

The amendment is to HB 400, a bill that requires the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to develop a ten-year plan for the state mental health system. The amendment calls for up to 60 more mental health beds at licensed hospitals and community residential facilities. It also calls for eight “peer crisis respite beds” and an additional mobile crisis team and apartment, all forms of community-based treatment.

The amendment does not come with a price tag – it only requires DHHS to issue a request for proposals to add the beds. Lawmakers estimate the final cost will be around $9 million.

The amendment to HB 400 is also separate from Gov. Sununu’s budget proposal, which is working its way through the Senate. That budget as proposed includes $3 million for community-based treatment, but not in-patient beds.

That focus on community-based treatment matches the requirements of a 2012 lawsuit to increase mental health treatment options for people outside of institutional settings. New Hampshire has still not met all the conditions of that settlement

Supporters of the amendment to HB 400 include Gov. Sununu, who testified in person at the hearing this week. He recounted his experiences visiting hospitals in New Hampshire where people who qualify for emergency admission may wait for weeks, sometimes in hallways, for a bed to open up.

“It's absolutely unacceptable and unconscionable that we've let it go on this long,” testified Sununu.

Some lawmakers are concerned about the price tag of this bill amendment, however. Unless the state increases funding for the Department of Health and Human Services overall, the in-patient treatment expansion might take away from other critical social services.

How do you think the state should change the mental health system in New Hampshire? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Christopher Sununu
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NH Governor (2016 - present); Executive Councilor (2010 - 2016); Owner/Director, Sununu Enterprises; CEO, Waterville Valley Ski Resort; Strategic Consultant; Environmental Engineer

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