Governor creates $18.5 million plan to address mental health needs

In response to recent mass shootings, one of which took place in Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper unveiled an $18.5 million plan to strengthen the state’s mental health services and support system.

“For the past five months, in response to the Aurora shooting, we have been working to expand mental health care and services across Colorado,” Hickenlooper said. “No single plan can guarantee to stop dangerous people from doing harm to themselves or others. But we can help people from falling through the cracks. We believe these policies will reduce the probability of bad things happening to good people.”

Five key strategies form the plan:

- Align three statutes into one new civil commitment law. This alignment protects the civil liberties of people experiencing mental crises or substance abuse emergencies and clarifies the process and options for providers of mental health and substance abuse services.

- Authorize the Colorado State Judicial System to transfer mental health commitment records electronically and directly to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in real-time so the information is available for firearm purchase background checks conducted by Colorado InstaCheck.

- $10.2 million allocated in the next budget to establish a single statewide mental health crisis hotline and to create five 24-hour walk-in crisis stabilization services for urgent needs.

- $2.06 million allocated to develop a 20-bed jailed-based restoration program in Denver.

- $4.7 million to develop residential services for those transitioning from institutional care, expand case management and wrap-around services for seriously mentally ill people, develop two 15-bed residential facilities for short-term transition from hospitals and target housing subsidies for 107 housing vouchers for people with serious mental illnesses.

- $1.3 million to build and devlop peer-support specialist positions in the state’s mental health hospitals, to provide de-escalation rooms at each of the state-run hospitals and to develop a consolidated mental health substance abuse data system.

 

 

The plan would be implemented through the Office of Behavioral Health at the Colorado Department of Human Services. It would be coordinated and in partnership with the state’s Behavioral Health Organizations, Community Behavioral Health Centers, state and local law enforcement, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, the Department of Public Health and Environment, the numerous highly-skilled providers and advocates across the state, and many hospitals and psychiatric emergency medical partners.

To read more about the state of mental health in Colorado Springs, click here.