Mental Health Colorado honors Vic Vela with 2019 Resiliency Award


Media contact: Aubree Hughes, 405-615-3845

Mental Health Colorado honors Vic Vela with 2019 Resiliency Award

DENVER—Vic Vela is a familiar voice to Coloradans. He’s also a voice of resilience, hope and recovery. Mental Health Colorado will honor Vela at the 2019 Tribute Gala on Sept. 28. The award-winning Colorado Public Radio host shares his journey through addiction, recovery and advocacy to put a human face on the growing problem of substance use disorder.

Mental Health Colorado is the state’s leading advocate in promoting mental health, ending stigma, and ensuring equitable access to mental health and substance use services. For 37 years, the organization’s Tribute gala has been bringing together members of the community—passionate about mental health—to celebrate accomplishments and raise funds to support the work. Kay Greene, Mental Health Colorado director of development, said Vela immediately came to mind when choosing the honoree.

“We’re honoring Vic with the resiliency award because he truly exemplifies what it means to be resilient in the face of adversity,” said Greene. “He is inspiring others with his strong leadership and outspoken advocacy for mental health and addiction.”

Nearly 70,000 Coloradans are not getting the substance use services they need, according to the Colorado Health Institute. Mental Health Colorado championed efforts this legislative session to secure $20 million for mental health and substance use services—including $1 million to expand the availability of housing to support services for individuals who are homeless and have a substance use disorder.

“Every one of us is broken in some way or another,” said Vela. “When we acknowledge that, we can have conversations that are rooted in mutual empathy. Then, your problems don’t seem so foreign, and neither do mine. The more we talk to one another about what we’re going through, the less scary the things we struggle with seem.”

Last year, Mental Health Colorado achieved the most significant accomplishments in its 65-year history. Among eight of the bills they championed, the policy team led the fight for mental health parity—holding insurers accountable to the law that says mental health and substance use treatment must be covered equal to physical health care.

Mental Health Colorado board member and Tribute co-chair Benjamin Miller, PsyD, said Vela is an inspiration to countless people daily.

“Vic Vela uses his own personal platform to connect with others letting them know that there is hope and they are not alone,” said Miller. “Changing the narrative around mental health and addiction in this country takes all of us—from the language we use to the personal stories we share. We are lucky in Colorado to have someone like Vic on the front lines of changing this narrative.”

About Mental Health Colorado:

As the state’s leading advocacy organization for mental health and substance use, Mental Health Colorado works to promote mental health, end stigma, and ensure equitable access to treatment and services. Mental Health Colorado is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and an affiliate of Mental Health America.