Officials announced on Monday that for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began there were no adults in hospital emergency departments waiting for inpatient psychiatric treatment.

“We are moving full speed ahead and are breaking down barriers in order to serve our most vulnerable,” said Gov. Chris Sununu in a statement. “While there is much more work to be done, our immediate actions have started to show promising results – and we are not letting up.”

On May 13, Governor Chris Sununu issued an Executive Order that allows the state's Department of Health and Human Services to take immediate steps to ensure that New Hampshire residents experiencing a mental health crisis receive timely and appropriate medical care.

During his weekly press briefing on Thursday, Sununu announced New Hampshire will invest up to $100 million in state and federal funds to go toward mobile crisis teams, 60 new transitional housing beds and 30 new emergency beds to be placed throughout the state.

Other new programs, such as a new forensic hospital, are still in the planning stages.

New private providers will be allowed to come into the state and new rules will be created for licensing, treatment and discharge.

When asked what will be done for the preteen and teenage population, Sununu said the mental health of children is part of the reason why he ordered schools to go back to in-person learning.

Districts were ordered to offer in-person learning five days a week starting on April 19.

A pediatrician who practices in Rochester said on May 25 that he is seeing the effects of the pandemic's past 14 months on children.

What's next?

DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette said in a statement released on Monday that they will "continue to address barriers to mental health care, and are working with our partners to create new and innovative practices and programs to serve our residents long term.”

According to a press release, New Hampshire Hospital has effectively managed their waiting list in partnership with long-term care facilities that have accepted patients from the hospital whose psychiatric conditions have stabilized but they continue to require supportive residential care.

“I want to thank long-term care facilities that have partnered with the Department to increase bed capacity, as well as the staff and leadership at New Hampshire Hospital for collaboratively creating opportunities to serve people with mental health needs," Shibinette said.

In addition to these efforts, the Department continues its work to implement the 10-Year Mental Health Plan to address barriers to mental health care, according to the press release.

Contact Managing News Editor Kimberley Haas at Kimberley.Haas@townsquaremedia.com.

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