DHSS Marks Milestone of 100,000 Referrals for Substance Use, Mental Health Services

NEW CASTLE (Jan. 4, 2022) – The Department of Health and Social Services’ (DHSS) Division of Substance Use and Mental Health (DSAMH) has surpassed a milestone of 100,000 referrals through its Delaware Treatment and Referral Network (DTRN), a system for Delawareans seeking substance use and mental health services.

Delaware is the first state to make more than 100,000 referrals using this system, built on the OpenBeds® platform, a bed registry platform owned by Bamboo Health (formerly Appriss Health + PatientPing). The DTRN system identifies and tracks behavioral health and social determinants of health resources throughout the state, giving providers immediate visibility into resource availability across a shared network. This makes it easier to get people the help they need when they need it.

“One death from an opioid overdose or from a mental health crisis is one too many,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, Ph.D., RN. “For families coping with a loved one, who suffers from substance use disorder or mental illness, finding help is an immediate need that must be met. The 100,000 referrals through DTRN demonstrates that we are mending the fractured behavioral health system in Delaware, so people can get access to treatment and on the path to recovery. As Chair of Delaware’s Behavioral Health Consortium, we remain committed to saving lives through platforms like DTRN and the network of behavioral health providers. Newsweek recently recognized Delaware in November 2021 as one of only four states that the CDC reported as having a decrease in the annual percentage rate of opioid deaths. DTRN was a significant tool contributing to this reduction.”

“This milestone represents a systematic improvement in identifying and treating individuals with substance use disorders,” said Joanna Champney, Director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. “That is 100,000 times where a pathway to treatment was made available for someone so they didn’t have to end up in the emergency room or worse.”

The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health launched DTRN in October 2018 as a way to improve outcomes for Delawareans suffering from a substance use disorder, while coordinating support for accompanying needs for housing, employment, education and other wraparound services. A recent white paper summarizing first-year results showed that the cloud-based network for expedited client referrals to inpatient and residential behavioral health programs generated a 45% increase in treatment referral requests in its first year, while improving rapid acknowledgment of referrals by 25%.

“Open Beds has been a fantastic platform that has provided transparency like never before,” said Steve Beltran, MSN, an RN Nurse Manager for ChristianaCare. “It has allowed us to place our patients in the right level of care faster. And has proven to be an effective method to communicate with care providers and agencies across the state.”

Overdose deaths continue to rise in Delaware, reaching 447 in 2020 (up from 431 in 2019 and 401 in 2018). Of those 447 deaths, 372 (83%) involved the use of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine.

The state’s opioid prescribing rate in 2020 of 45.2 per 100 people is higher than the U.S. average of 43.3, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Lack of visibility for providers in determining current inpatient and residential treatment center capacity can make it challenging to connect clients with appropriate substance use and behavioral health services in a timely manner. Referring physicians and treatment providers often struggle to share client data, admission criteria, and availability. For clients in need, these delays can be dangerous and even life-threatening.

By assisting providers with the onboarding process to encourage adoption of the Delaware Treatment and Referral Network, Delaware expanded the number of active users on its network by 264% in its first year. The referral platform also improved response rates to referral requests, with 65% of receiving organizations acknowledging a client referral within 30 minutes, an increase of 25% since the program’s inception a year prior.

“DTRN has been pivotal in connecting individuals with behavioral health and substance use issues with appropriate providers in an efficient and collaborative manner,” said John McKenna, CEO of Rockford Center. “This technology has substantially improved not only access to treatment for individuals and families, but also has facilitated an enhanced level of communication between the referring agency and our Assessment Center. Whether it’s accepting individual referrals at our front door, or helping our discharging patients get connected to community services prior to leaving our facility, DTRN has assisted in removing barriers and promoted access to a wider range of resources in our state. The system also provides us with critical data that allows us to better understand patient and family needs, engagement in treatment, and potential service gaps.”

“The Delaware Treatment and Referral Network has allowed the Department of Correction to connect individuals in our custody to vital health care services upon their release to the community,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Monroe B. Hudson Jr. “DTRN makes possible a seamless transition to resources like Medication-Assisted Treatment for offenders who struggle with addiction. Simply put, keeping these behavioral and medical health care services in place without interruption saves lives and is helping the DOC and our partners improve reentry outcomes across Delaware.”

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction in Delaware, call DHSS’ 24/7 Crisis Hotline to be connected to treatment and recovery options at 1-833-9-HOPEDE or visit www.HelpIsHereDE.com or treatmentconnection.com.

DHSS, Other Agencies Seek to Connect Patients of Two Prescribers Associated with Md. Clinic to Continuing Treatment

NEW CASTLE (Feb. 5, 2021) –Two Maryland prescribers associated with a clinic in Denton, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland surrendered their Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Registration for cause in early January. The associated prescribers to this practice are no longer able to prescribe controlled substances. Patients of this Eastern Shore practice, including Delaware residents, should seek alternatives for care.

Of the prescribers’ 300 now former patients, about 50% live in Delaware, mostly in Sussex County. To increase the opportunity for continuity of care for these patients, the Delaware Division of Public Health, the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation and the Office of Controlled Substances are coordinating efforts to notify hospital and community pharmacies, hospital emergency departments and treatment programs.

Delaware officials said the most effective way to provide the clinic’s former patients with guidance and referrals to other providers is through the patients’ primary care physicians. If that doesn’t occur, patients being treated over long periods of time for pain with opioids such as oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine and oxymorphone will need to access providers with expertise in treating and managing pain.

Delaware patients who are seeking referrals to physicians may contact the Delaware Hope Line at 1-833-9-HOPEDE (1-833-946-7333).

In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides a 24/7 National Helpline to provide referrals for treatment services at 1-800-662-4359.

While opioids serve a purpose in managing a patient’s pain, they belong to a family of prescription drugs, which can lead to addiction. Delaware is one of the top 20 states in opioid prescriptions per capita and currently has the nation’s highest prescription rate for high-dose opioids. Delaware also ranks in the top five states for most overdose deaths per capita.

In its annual report for 2019, the Delaware Division of Forensic Science reported 431 overdose deaths in Delaware, an increase of almost 8% over 2018. Of the 431 total deaths, the Division reported that 341 (79%) involved fentanyl, a synthetic pain reliever that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine. Many of those deaths involved fentanyl powder, fentanyl mixed with heroin, or counterfeit controlled substance pills containing fentanyl. The percentage of total overdose deaths in 2019 involving fentanyl was 5 percentage points higher than in 2018. A final report on overdose deaths for 2020 is not expected until April, but Delaware expects to see an increase in overdose deaths over the 2019 total.

Recognizing the importance of harm reduction, prevention, treatment and recovery, the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) launched www.HelpIsHereDE.com to offer resources to Delawareans and their loved ones suffering from substance use disorder (SUD). In 2020, DHSS also launched the 24/7 Delaware Hope Line at 1-833-9-HOPEDE (1-833-946-7333) to provide a connection to treatment for anyone suffering from substance use disorder, anxiety, depression, or any other behavioral health issue.

Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay urged Delawareans who are worried about the risk of overdose among family members or friends to obtain naloxone – a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose – through a new DPH mail-order service that can deliver Narcan to an eligible person’s home for free; at one of DSAMH’s Bridge Clinics in each of the three counties; through a participating pharmacy – where no prescription is required; or as part of a naloxone training session.

“Naloxone saves lives,” said Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We also encourage Delawareans to download OpiRescue Delaware, a smartphone app that provides life-saving step-by-step instructions on how to respond to an overdose, including administration of naloxone.” To find the Bridge Clinic in your county, naloxone training or distribution events, or a participating pharmacy, go to HelpIsHereDE.com, and click on the overdose prevention tab.

DHSS’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Launches Online Behavioral Health Treatment Referral Platform

NEW CASTLE (Sept. 17, 2020) – The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) announced today the launch of a new online platform that allows Delawareans to find substance use disorder or mental health treatment services for themselves or a loved one.

DHSS’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) partnered with Appriss Health, a national technology company that provides solutions to health care entities and government agencies, to develop the online Behavioral Health Referral Portal for Delaware. The new application – which can be accessed through HelpisHereDE.com and directly through Treatment Connection (www.treatmentconnection.com) – enables those seeking mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) treatment services to anonymously search for nearby providers, evaluate the type of care needed, and submit confidential online referral inquiries to appropriate treatment providers vetted by DHSS.

Delawareans needing support for mental health and substance use disorder challenges will have self-service access to:

  • A self-assessment tool to help determine the most appropriate level of treatment.
  • A searchable list of trusted treatment services and providers by ZIP code and distance.
  • Educational materials.
  • Contact information for providers with current treatment capacity.
  • Confidential communications with treatment providers about next steps.

“This is critical access for Delaware families who have long sought a way to connect online with substance use disorder and mental health providers about confidential treatment services for loved ones,” DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik said. “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, having this virtual connection is even more important.”

“Time is of the essence. We must do everything we can for individuals and families seeking help when they need it. Our focus has been to close gaps in services and provide choices for individuals in addressing their recovery needs,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, who chairs the Behavioral Health Consortium. “This virtual referral platform provides another level of care coordination to ensure Delawareans have recovery options to support a stronger and healthier Delaware.”

“The ability for someone to know how to be connected to treatment improves equitable access to these critical services,” said Alexis Teitelbaum, DSAMH’s Acting Director. “This tool is a part of our efforts to ensure that when anyone needs help immediately, they can be seamlessly connected to a provider equipped with up-to-date information about caring for that person.”

Through August of this year, Delaware’s Division of Forensic Science has reported 256 deaths from suspected overdoses in Delaware, an increase of about 32% from the same period in 2019. In a study published in August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19 among U.S. adults. In the study, 31% of respondents reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, 26% reported symptoms of trauma or stressor-related disorder, 13% said they had started or increased substance use, and 11% reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days prior to the study.

In addition to the new online portal, Delawareans can seek behavioral health support for themselves or their loved ones by:

  • Calling DHSS’ 24/7 Delaware Hope Line at 1-833-9-HOPEDE (1-833-946-7333) and talking with a trained professional.
  • Visiting one of DSAMH’s Bridge Clinics in person. For an appointment, call the New Castle County clinic at 302-255-1650; for Kent County, call 302-857-5060; for Sussex County, call 302-515-3310.
  • Talking with their doctor or another trusted health care professional.

DSAMH will provide behavioral health providers statewide with marketing materials to promote the new online service.

About Appriss Health

Appriss Health provides trusted technology solutions to federal and state governments, payers, health systems, clinicians, pharmacies, and health information exchanges working to improve public health. In collaboration with state governments, Appriss built the nation’s most comprehensive, standards-driven data integration platform to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic. Appriss’ platform connects nearly all U.S. states, close to 1 million prescribers and half a million care team members, more than 30,000 pharmacies, and thousands of hospitals, managing more than 400 million daily transactions. It enables seamless in-workflow visibility to patients’ prescription drug history and a comprehensive solution that improves access to needed care for people with behavioral health conditions and social determinants of health challenges. Combined, Appriss’ data analytics solutions and bi-directional communication capabilities support whole-person care and rehabilitation for physical and behavioral health conditions and substance use disorders, improving health outcomes and reducing overall healthcare spending. For more information, please visit www.apprisshealth.com.

DHSS Sponsors Recovery Events to Raise Awareness of Support for People Living with Mental, Substance Use Disorders

NEW CASTLE (Sept. 2, 2020) – Recognizing September as National Recovery Month, Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Molly Magarik acknowledged the importance of meeting the needs of Delawareans with mental and substance use disorders, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic is difficult for all of us emotionally, but none more so than Delawareans struggling with addiction, mental illness or both,” Magarik said. “And with such public health measures as social distancing in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we know treatment referrals for individuals with behavioral health issues can be more difficult to access, their recovery plans can be altered, and the actual treatment and recovery supports can look very different than what people are used to receiving. Still, we know that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people do live a long, quality life in recovery. DHSS can provide Delawareans with the resources they need.”

Recovery Month is a national observance sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The celebration raises awareness of mental and substance use disorders, celebrates individuals in long-term recovery, and acknowledges the work of prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.

To promote the widespread national observance, DHSS’s Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) is sponsoring Recovery Month events. These events support people in recovery and draw attention to critical prevention, treatment, and recovery support services in Delaware. The events, when scheduled, will be added to an online calendar here: https://bit.ly/3fiMnaI

Recognizing the benefit of having trained professionals available to listen and connect Delawareans to care, DSAMH is also promoting the new Delaware Hope Line. The Hope Line is a confidential phone line staffed by a diverse group of professionals dedicated to helping Delawareans cope with stress and meet their behavioral health needs during the coronavirus pandemic. Delawareans can call 1-833-9-HOPEDE (1-833-946-7333). This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Hope Line specialists provide a variety of resources and information, including behavioral health treatment options available, regardless of insurance or ability to pay.

“DSAMH is here to help Delawareans with behavioral health needs during these extraordinary times,” said Alexis Teitelbaum, DSAMH’s acting director. “Recovery Month offers a chance to celebrate with those in recovery and recognize the dedicated work of our behavioral health care providers throughout the state. There are resources available, and we want to ensure those who are suffering know that help is here.”

For more information, visit, www.HelpIsHereDE.com.

‘Hope Line’ Connects Delawareans to Help for Handling Stress, Behavioral Health Issues

NEW CASTLE (May 15, 2020) – The Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) has launched a phone line dedicated to helping Delawareans cope with stress and address behavioral health needs during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Delaware Hope Line – 1 (833) 9-HOPEDE or (833) 946-7333 – is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to connect callers to a variety of resources and information, including support from clinicians and peer specialists plus crisis assistance. The Hope Line, which is free, provides a single point of contact for individuals to tap into DSAMH’s range of services and resources.

Delawareans can also get behavioral health tips and reminders by texting DEHOPE to 55753.

The spread of COVID-19 and the social and economic impacts of mitigation efforts imposed to control the virus are expected to result in increased rates of mental health disorders and substance use disorders, along with deaths associated with suicide, overdose, and violence, especially domestic violence.

“Now more than ever, we are called to find ways to offer hope and a helping hand to one another,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “The Hope Line will help Delawareans who may be struggling with loneliness from social isolation; anxiety from the uncertainty of these times; or the stress of having to manage with limited resources. This is a time when no one has to struggle alone. We can find ways to be together in our common goal to keep Delawareans healthy and strong.”

“Though these public health mitigation efforts are necessary to help limit the transmission of the virus and the loss of life due to COVID-19, we know such measures will expose people to situations such as isolation and job loss that are linked to poor mental health outcomes,” said Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “Anxiety is common, as people fear that they or their loved ones will get sick. Plus, we know that many of us are uncertain about all of the repercussions associated with this pandemic.”

According to a recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half of Americans report that the coronavirus has had a negative impact on their mental health. And Mental Health America reported that since February, the number of people screening positive for moderate to severe anxiety and depression jumped by an additional 18,000 people compared with January. Resources and services are also available through DHSS’ behavioral health support website, HelpIsHereDE.com

“Based on the anticipated surge of mental health and substance use disorders related to the coronavirus crisis, we want to make people aware of the Hope Line so that we can help as many people as possible, when they are ready to receive it,” said Elizabeth Romero, DSAMH director. “We are living in extraordinary times requiring everyone to cope in different ways.”

The Hope Line will increase access to support for Delawareans experiencing mental fatigue, emotional distress, mental health issues, or addiction, Romero said, and to help them from feeling alone or in despair. “Our peer specialists and clinicians are here to provide a safe space for confidential therapy or coaching for those who need it, and they will link callers to appropriate services. We are grateful to partner with many behavioral health providers across the state to help in this crisis.”

A.J. Schall Jr., director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), emphasized the critical importance of resources such as the Hope Line. “During times of change and crisis we cannot forget about the need for mental health, not only to navigate existing challenges that people face but also for our statewide disaster and crisis-planning efforts to help those who need it most to adapt safely,” Schall said.

May is national Mental Health Awareness Month. A broad body of research links social isolation and loneliness to poor mental health. This may be particularly pronounced among older adults and households with adolescents, as these groups are already at risk for depression or suicidal thoughts.