Mental Health Colorado adds coordinator in Pikes Peak Region

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) — We know that teen suicide is a public health emergency in our community. Now one non-profit group is working to put a coordinator in the Pikes Peak region to help combat the problem.

Katie Pelton sits down with Mental Health Colorado President & CEO Andrew Romanoff.

Mental Health Colorado is adding a coordinator to cover El Paso and Teller counties. They will live here and work here, learning what the real issues are that face our community.

Colorado has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. The group wants to focus on more prevention and early intervention when it comes to mental health.

Mental Health Colorado told 11 News they know one of the biggest issues facing our community is teen suicide.

“One strategy that we’re pursuing is to get more services in schools,” said Andrew Romanoff, president and CEO, Mental Health Colorado.

“What we’ve found is that if you can get teachers trained, not to diagnose or treat mental illness, but at least to spot the symptoms,” Romanoff said. “Then if you have somebody on-site to whom those teachers can refer a kid who needs help, you dramatically increase the chances that the kid will actually get that help.”

They said having someone at schools would make a big difference.

“If you actually put a mental health professional at school — maybe in concert with the mental health agency, but you park that person on-site — the chances now that kid will get the care she needs go from one out of 10, to nine out of 10,” he added.

Mental Health Colorado plans to add coordinators to different regions all across the state. Their main office is in Denver. They said their goal is to make our state a leader for others in the fight against mental illness.