Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Deputy Commissioner Nancy Navarretta will take the reins of the behavioral health agency as its commissioner, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Wednesday in a press release.
Lamont nominated Navarretta to fill a gap left by Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, the department’s prior commissioner, who left over the summer to join President Joe Biden’s administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as assistant secretary for mental health and substance use. The governor praised Navarretta’s leadership in the interim months.
“We need strong leadership on these issues at this time, particularly when it comes to the impact that the opioid epidemic is having on our country and the growing mental health needs resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lamont said. “This is an important responsibility, and I appreciate Nancy for agreeing to help lead Connecticut’s efforts on this front.”
Navarretta is a licensed professional counselor who, prior to entering government service in 2013, held positions at several Connecticut behavioral health providers including Cornell Scott-Hill Health Corporation in New Haven, Fairfield Community Services, and the non-profit Liberation Programs Inc., in Norwalk. In a press release, she thanked Lamont for the opportunity.
“I appreciate Governor Lamont’s confidence in my leadership and look forward to collaborating with sister state agencies and partnering with stakeholders statewide to continue supporting individuals struggling with mental health concerns and those affected by the opioid epidemic, by providing holistic, comprehensive, and effective services and supports that foster dignity, respect, and self-sufficiency in those we serve,” she said.
Navarretta, of Hamden, has been a deputy commissioner since 2015. She became acting commissioner following Delphin-Rittmon’s departure. She will continue now as interim commissioner until the legislature considers her nomination for confirmation when it returns to Hartford for its 2022 regular session.
She accepts the leadership mantle at the agency during a difficult time. The behavioral health system as a whole has become strained under the added stress of the COVID pandemic and DMHAS, which operates two state hospitals and, according to a press release, provides behavioral healthcare to 100,000 adults each year, has struggled to maintain services amidst short staffing.