Meet Andrew Romanoff – Colorado Speaker of the House to Mental Health Advocate
Only half of the people in Colorado who need mental healthcare get it, according to the advocacy group Mental Health Colorado. The organization’s CEO Andrew Romanoff is focused on changing that. Five Hundred thousand people aren’t getting the healthcare they need, says Romanoff.
“We do a pretty good job, I think, in this state, in responding to crises, but not in preventing them,” asserts Romanoff, who maintains that in Colorado, as in other states, it’s estimated that it takes eight to ten years on average to respond to diagnoses of mental illness. The former state legislator and Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives support a multi-faceted approach to improving mental health treatment in the state. Early detection and prevention are vital at the outset, says Romanoff, then delivery of services, including adequate mental healthcare networks, in-patient beds, transition services, and supportive housing are important. Another area of concern is making sure that insurance companies fulfill their responsibilities to patients. This often involves a legislative approach, something at which both staffers at Mental Health Colorado and Romanoff are quite skilled.
Led by Romanoff, Mental Health Colorado works with the Colorado Insurance Commission to be certain that companies are following state law, like complying with the guidelines of a statute that requires that someone experiencing a mental health crisis be seen by a mental health professional within 24 hours, and that someone with a less acute mental health concern be seen within seven calendar days.
For years Romanoff has been instrumental in crafting legislation that supports people with mental illness in their efforts to get treatment. A parity law he champions guarantees that people with mental health conditions receive the same level of support as people with physical conditions. In his leadership of Mental Health Colorado the former lawmaker wants to broaden the network of support for those with mental illness and combat obstacles to treatment.
Romanoff is expanding support across the state, with employees and volunteers, to make sure that access to mental health care is widely available to people even in rural areas of the state. To find out more about programs supported by Mental Health Colorado and how to get involved in increasing access to mental healthcare for all Coloradans contact Mental Health Colorado at: www.mentalhealthcolorado.org, or (720) 208-2220.