Public Policy Advocacy Agenda

State Statistics: Delaware

Mental Illness Is Common

  • Of Delaware’s approximately 900,000 residents, close to 29,000 adults live with serious mental illnessi and about 9,000 children live with serious mental health conditions.ii

Untreated Mental Illness has Deadly and Costly Consequences

  • In 2006, 91 Delawareans died by suicide.iii Suicide is almost always the result of untreated or undertreated mental illness.
  • Nationally, we lose one life to suicide every 15.8 minutes. Suicide is the eleventh-leading cause of death overall and is the third-leading cause of death among youth and young adults aged 15-24.iv
  • During the 2006-07 school year, approximately 62 percent of Delaware students aged 14 and older living with serious mental health conditions who receive special education services dropped out of high school.v

Public Mental Health Services are Inadequate to Meet Needs

  • Delaware’s public mental health system provides services to only 19 percent of adults who live with serious mental illnesses in the
  • Delaware spent just $104 per capita on mental health agency services in 2006, or $88.0 million.vii This was just 1.6 percent of total state spending that year.viii
  • In 2006, 50 percent of Delaware state mental health agency spending was on community mental health services; 48 percent was spent on state hospital care.ix Nationally, an average of 70 percent is spent on community mental health services and 28 percent on state hospital care.x

Criminal Justice Systems Bear a Heavy Burden

  • In 2006, 303 children were incarcerated in Delaware’s juvenile justice system.xi Nationally, approximately 70 percent of youth in juvenile justice systems experience mental health disorders, with 20 percent experiencing a severe mental health condition.xii
  • In 2008, approximately 1,000 adults with mental illnesses were incarcerated in prisons and jails in Delaware.xiii

Many Residents Rely on Public Services for Needed Care

  • Approximately 12.9 percent of Delawareans are enrolled in Medicaid.xiv
  • Approximately 95,000 Delawareans are uninsured.xv

Housing is Unaffordable for People who Rely on SSI or SSDI

  • The average rent for a studio apartment in Delaware is 109 percent of the average Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment, making housing unaffordable for adults living with serious mental illness who rely on SSI.xvi



  1. Mental Health Courts: Support the establishment of mental health court so that offenders with mental illnesses will be sentenced to the appropriate mental health system. Presently this is done on an ad hoc basis with treatment available on a limited basis. A Federal grant will set up the court and a special CTT.
  2. Medications:  Support funding the budget in full so that all Division of DSAMH consumers shall continuously receive their prescribed medications.  Previous budgets included savings, which were not accomplished.
  3. Housing: Support full funding for group homes and supervised apartments.
  4. DPC: Support reallocating DPC budget funds so that patients being integrated into the community shall receive appropriated follow up and care. $4.7 million nursing funds could be reclassified as flexible money.
  5. Parity: Support full parity for mental illnesses so that all DSM IV illnesses are covered.
  6. Olmstead plan: Support the creation of a commission to oversee and the funding to complete the Olmstead plan.
  7. State Mental Health Plan: Support funding for a comprehensive statewide, mental health plan so that we have a blueprint of how we will meet mental health needs for all Delawareans in the next 5 years.
  8. Housing discrimination: Support changing local zoning to provide exemptions to mental illness group homes as is afforded to developmental disability homes so that zoning is uniformly applied to homes for persons with disabilities.
  9. Involuntary Commitment: Support legislation that provides an outpatient Patient’s Bill of Rights and allows involuntary outpatient commitment at a level below the dangerous standard so that objective commitment criteria are used and patient rights are protected.
    Click here for entire Public Policy Platform on Involuntary Commitment
  10. CMII and Prisons: Support equal standards of treatment for mental illnesses in prisons as through DSAMH and improve the CMH system so that mental heath services will meet the needs of the states mentally ill population.
  11. Attendant case: Support providing attendant care for people with mental illnesses so that it will be available to mental health cases as well as developmental and physical disabilities patients.