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COLORADO RESPONDS T0 NATIONAL CAMPAIGN WITH STATEWIDE EFFORT TO IMPROVE RESPONSE TO MENTAL ILLNESS

A national dialogue on mental health, started about a year ago by the Obama administration after shootings like those at Sandy Hook Elementary School, focused on community solutions to the problem of accessing mental health care. About 60 percent of Americans with mental illness are untreated, according to officials who indicate that while most people with mental illness are not violent, getting treatment for the millions who need it will provide essential care and reduce the incidence of crises. In Colorado, non-profits and businesses responded to the national conversation with a statewide effort to identify major concerns and do something about them. Creating Community Solutions Colorado is an initiative aimed at contributing to the national conversation on mental illness. Meetings were held April 5th and June 5th and attracted participants who were both providers and recipients of mental health services. The gatherings were hosted by The Civic Canopy, a Denver non-profit focused on finding community solutions to difficult problems.

Group discussions led to the identification of four major areas of concern:

  • Integrating mental health with physical health,
    Expanding access and capacity, particularly for those on Medicaid,
    The response of the criminal justice system to the mentally ill,
    And changing the message about mental illness from one of stigma to one of inclusion and results.

Participants were encouraged to work in one of these areas to gather information that might be useful in making changes. Additional meetings will be held, and the input of the various groups will be used to create “action plans” for new mental health projects.

One new program on the horizon is a statewide mental health hotline for crises and information. The phone network is expected to be serving callers across the state by the end of the summer. For more information about all aspects of the statewide mental health initiative, and to participate in the community conversations, you can check several websites in addition to this one:

the Storify page of MentalHealth.gov, civiccanopy.org, and facebook.com/CreatingCommunitySolutionsColorado.

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