One of the most overlooked aspects of healthcare is mental healthcare. After surviving a catastrophic helicopter crash on deployment to Afghanistan, which left me paralyzed from the waist down, my most challenging days during rehab and recovery were not because of the physical injury but were caused by my mental health struggles. Having access to quality and affordable mental healthcare was critical to my recovery.
A focal point of my work in the community is mental health. If elected, I would, first, increase the number of counselors in our schools. Second, I would also advocate for a “special forces” group of mental healthcare professionals that are assigned to school districts. They could rotate office hours at schools throughout the district, organize and host mental health seminars for teachers, students, and parents, and also “helicopter” in during an emergency and/or time of tragedy. My third priority will be to decriminalize mental health through working with sheriffs, our communities, and mental healthcare professionals to create a response system where a person in crisis will be responded with a mental healthcare professional instead of a police officer with a gun. We, as a state, also need to find funding for facilities and beds for those suffering emergent mental health issues so they are NOT housed in our jails. I also look forward to working with organizations like Mental Health Colorado and others to collaborate on other possible solutions. I am David Ortiz, we are HD38.