Delaware officials, health professionals and community advocates came together Oct. 27 to take the next step in Delaware’s fight against substance use addiction.

The Behavioral Health Consortium, created this year by the general assembly and chaired by Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, held its first meeting and began its work to develop an action plan that will prevent and treat substance use disorder, expand and improve mental health treatment and recovery and provide support for family members of loved ones who are battling addiction or coping with mental health disorders.

Hall-Long has been the leading force behind the formation of the consortium, which was formed earlier this year by the passage of Senate Bill 111 and has been tapped by Gov. John Carney to lead Delaware’s efforts on improving services and closing gaps for those with addiction and mental illness. The creation of the consortium and coordinated plan is a recommendation of Carney’s Action Plan For Delaware.

In 2016, Delaware had more than 300 overdose deaths, which is a 35 percent increase from 2015. This year, Delaware has experienced 185 overdose deaths. Many advocates recognize the need for action.

In addition to the work of the consortium, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services have launched resources to help individuals struggling with addiction. Visit HelpIsHereDE.com.

Individuals with addiction can also call DHSS’ 24/7 hotline to be connected to treatment options. In New Castle County, call 800-652-2929. In Kent and Sussex counties, call 800-345-6785.