Deaths of despair–from suicide, opioid overdose, and alcohol use–have been at an all-time high for the decade leading up to the pandemic–and skyrocketed during the pandemic by 23%. The state of Delaware had one of the top 5 rates of death of despair in the nation. In addition, Delaware like all states across the nation have a long history of criminalizing people with mental health and addictions, especially in communities of color. Delaware has a 15% higher absolute rate of criminalization of people of color than other states.
Why Does this Challenge Exist?
Financial insecurity, hopelessness for a better future, social isolation, all contribute to deaths of despair–along with the availability of street drugs like fentanyl which can lead to accidental overdose.
Who Came Together?
The Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH)
Delaware Department of Public Health (DPH)
Delaware Division of Child Services
Delaware Division of Services for Children, Youth, and their Families
Delaware Department of Corrections
Health Management Associates (technical assistance partner)
Wellbeing and Equity (WE) in the World (strategy and technical assistance partner)
Community partners (schools, businesses, health care providers, etc.)
The Role of WE in the World
How We Did It
Approach & Building Blocks
And Failings Forward
“Until we could understand the system from the stories and lives of people going through the system, until we could understand how these systems were connected and working together to serve or fail people with mental health and addictions, we couldn’t change them”
– Elizabeth Romero, Division Director of DSAMH, 2019