Mental-health services are hard to get, state nonprofit chief says

People needing mental health services are seven times more likely to have to go outside their insurance network for care than patients just needing medical care, according to a national study released this week by Mental Health Colorado.

State law says health insurance providers should be able to provide both medical care and mental health care with parity, but the latest study shows mental health patients are far more unlikely to be able to get care from their providers.

Andrew Romanoff, executive director of Mental Health Colorado, said state law requires that a patient in urgent need of mental health care get it within 24 hours and within seven days for non-urgent care. That often isn’t happening, said Romanoff.

“We have a potentially illegal situation here where services aren’t being provided,” he said.

There are several chronic reasons for the lack of mental health services, Romanoff said, including a shortage of psychiatrists, psychologists and other professionals.

Mental Health Colorado is encouraging people who have not been able to get care to contact the Colorado Division of Insurance and make a formal complaint.

They can also go to the Mental Health Colorado’s website at

This article originally appeared in the Pueblo Chieftain.