As long as I’ve been involved in civic matters, our mental health systems have generally been underfunded. I won’t say money is everything, but it has a strong correlation to staffing, services, and facilities – much of which is in short supply in underserved areas of Colorado. And with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on people and our economy, it seems as if demand for mental health services will only grow. I fully understand that access to mental health care is in the greatest interests of individuals, families, and society, and pledge to support legislation and budgetary decisions regarding mental health to the best of Colorado’s ability.
This year, I voted for HB 20-1411, which received bipartisan support and allocated $15 million in federal CARES Act money to critical mental health programs and substance abuse treatment. I voted for HB 20-1086, which would have required insurers to cover annual mental health wellness exams like they cover annual physical exams, though the bill didn’t pass. Over my years in office, I’ve also voted for bills protecting mental health parity, funding behavioral health services in schools, providing behavioral health support for high-risk families, and more. I support returning to the mental health districts model that preceded the Hickenlooper administration, which removes insurers from determining how taxpayer dollars are allocated.
We may talk about public programs and funding in general terms, but I will never forget that these services can help struggling individuals and families experience a better quality of life, and will always vote accordingly.