Health agencies seek changes in state behavioral health care system

One state health network says it is seeing tens of thousands of children under 18 every year with some form of mental illness and health providers say it is hard to keep up with the demand.
Several hospitals and state agencies gave their testimonies in Hartford before the state Legislature demanding changes to Connecticut's behavioral health care system.
"We believe strongly that to achieve maximum wellness we must treat each child holistically, integrating both physical and emotional health into comprehensive care planning," said Dr. Manisha Juthani, the state health commissioner.
Experts say there is little doubt the pandemic contributed to more children and teens seeking mental health care. They say there has been a rise in teen suicide attempts.
News 12 reported on the story of Fairfield Warde football player Kevin Kuczo, who died by suicide earlier this year.
Warde students sold Spreading Smiles sweatshirts to honor their classmate. All the money raised was donated to an organization to prevent teen suicide.
The state health commissioner says this crisis needs to end.
"We want to keep our kids safe and be able to do it in a way that is safe and within our regulations, so we want to be attentive to that and at the same time to help facilitate the process and be able to help care for our kids," said Juthani.
Behavioral health agencies say the system is underfunded and Connecticut is lagging behind other states. Experts say the behavioral health care system is overburdened.