2000s: Mental Health Parity
The 2000s brought another decade of steadfast advocacy for MHAC. MHAC continued to build relationships with fellow mental health agencies and create new services for the people of Colorado.
In 2005, MHAC and several partners published the “Summit Report,” detailing the impact of recent state budget cuts on mental health support. In short, this report illustrated all of the ways society and the economy are impacted by untreated mental health and substance abuse issues. The report was instrumental in the legislative process, and in 2005, Referendum C was passed – restoring some of the funding and services that were lost in earlier cuts.
A major focus during this time period was achieving equal health coverage of physical and mental health conditions – often referred to as “parity.” MHAC led legislative efforts in 2007 to increase insurance benefits for mental health treatment, a dream that was realized when Governor Bill Ritter signed Senate Bill 36 into law.
MHAC has been instrumental in creating several programs that are now independent entities. In 2006, The Triage Project began as a series of inter-agency and interdisciplinary discussions, convened and sponsored by MHAC. Metro Crisis Services – now Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners – was designed to address the issue of ill-equipped and unprepared hospital emergency rooms being overrun with individuals dealing with a mental health or substance abuse condition.
By 2007, this collaborative effort led to a plan to develop a seven-county behavioral health crisis intervention system. This new system would include a 24/7, professionally staffed call center, along with a resource database and encounter-based Emergency Response plan to be shared among providers. It also included three walk-in centers for behavioral health crisis response.