Connecticut invests $100M to help improve kids' mental health
Connecticut officials announced they are making a $100 million investment in kids and mental health.
But the news comes too late for Kevin Kuczo's family. The Fairfield Warde High student died by suicide in February.
To the outside world, Kevin Kuczo seemed happy, but he was struggling with depression.
"We were not prepared for this," said his father Jim Kuczo. "Always the type of kid who was picking you up...you know, making positive mental attitude."
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says teen suicide attempts have jumped 31% during the pandemic, which is why Connecticut just passed three new mental health laws, HB5001, SB1, and SB2.
Starting next year, most insurance plans must cover two mental health evaluations a year – with no pre-authorization or co-pay required. For low-income parents who qualify, the state will cover treatment that insurance doesn’t. Pediatricians will also be trained to do mental health evaluations. Emergency 911 callers in crisis will now be routed to mental health professionals, cutting down on potentially dangerous police calls. Mental health crisis vans will now run 24/7, and six new psychological urgent care centers will help parents avoid an emergency room visit.
On Wednesday, Gov. Ned Lamont visited The Villages for Families and Children, a Hartford mental health provider, to tout the new investment.
"There's no vaccine for mental health, but it does demand the same attention," said Lamont. " [Kids] need a shoulder to lean on. They need a coach, they need a mentor, they need some friends, they need some therapy. They need someone who's looking out for them."
Schools will get more psychologists and more access to Narcan after a 13-year-old fatally overdosed on fentanyl earlier this year.
Kevin Kuczo's family is doing their part. Kevin's Afterglow brings mental health presentations to local schools. His father also wants to award scholarships for youth therapists.
"I want parents to be educated," said Jim Kuczo. "It gives people hope that they're not just in an island out by themselves."
The New Normal Wednesday morning looked at how to help kids struggling with depression and anxiety. In Connecticut, you can call 211 and get immediate help.