Norm Needleman


Norm Needleman



April 22, 2022

Senate Takes Preventative Action to Protect Children’s Mental Health

Sen. Needleman supports legislation implementing and strengthening programs intended to prevent children’s mental health issues

Today, the Connecticut State Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 2, an overarching piece of legislation designed to benefit children’s mental health amid a growing children’s mental health crisis both local and national. State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex), joined an overwhelming amount of support for the bill, which passed by a 33-1 vote.

One of Senate Democrats’ lead priorities this legislative session, this bill takes significant steps forward in supporting, expanding and creating preventative programs to reduce conditions conducive to children developing mental health disorders. With more children experiencing mental health disorders, this legislation seeks to target root causes of mental health issues, supporting children in their early development and formative years to better prepare them for success in their lives.

“We need to do all we can to address the children’s mental health crisis, not just right now but for the future,” said Sen. Needleman. “This legislation supports programs and efforts to not only address current mental health needs but protect against conditions that can contribute to mental health issues in the future. By taking proactive measures now, we can work to reduce the impacts on children’s mental health in the future.”

Senate Bill 2, “An Act Expanding Preschool and Mental and Behavioral Services For Children,” would make numerous changes to current state policies and programs. Among the most important:

  • Mobile crisis centers will be available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week everywhere in the state.
  • The legislation will create an equity-based mental health fund aiding members of the public disconnected from mental health services.
  • In the event federal authorities do not take action, steps will be taken to enshrine telehealth services including allowances for professionals residing out of state.
  • The bill creates a mental health plan for student-athletes; studies show these students are increasingly likely to suffer mental health issues.
  • A study on the effects of social media and mobile phone use on children will provide legislators with information on those platforms’ effects on children’s mental health.
  • A Department of Public Health grant program will allow pediatrician offices to hire social workers with the grant funding half of the social workers’ salary.
  • New safe storage guidelines will be adopted for prescription drugs and cannabis to prevent undue access to these substances.
  • The Department of Public Health will manage a program recruiting and retaining healthcare workers, specifically behavioral health experts and professionals; a working group will further examine enhancing physician recruitment in the state.
  • The state will join PSYPACT, which allows psychology services to take place across state boundaries.
  • Youth Service Bureaus will receive an additional $2 million in funding.

The bill previously passed the Children’s Committee by a vote of 11-2 and the Appropriations Committee by a 48-0 unanimous tally. The bill now moves to the House.