Noelle Swan

Delaware seeks to fill persistent shortfall in child mental health services

In Healthcare on August 5, 2013 at 11:10 am

WDDE graphicThe state of Delaware has seen slow progress so far in its efforts to bring specialized child and adolescent psychiatric care to Sussex and Kent counties, despite a devastating string of 11 teen suicides and 116 suicide attempts in southern Delaware last year.

Many of the suicides occurred while a special task force was examining unmet child and adolescent mental health needs following the arrest and conviction of Earl B. Bradley for sexually abusing more than 100 patients in his pediatric practice, which left Kent and Sussex County mental health providers scrambling to find skilled support for the victims.

In March 2012, the task force issued a series of recommendations for expanding care in southern Delaware, including a top-priority charge to attract at least two psychiatrists trained to work with adolescents and children to establish a private practice in Sussex County.

That recommendation has proved difficult to fulfill, according to state officials.

“I think they are a significant way down the road to getting one, which would be 50 percent of the target, but it’s been a significant challenge,” said Lt. Governor Matt Denn. “As far back as anyone can remember, there’s been a shortage in Sussex County primarily but also in parts of Kent County.”

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