Rachel Inez Stovall
What counties do you represent? If this is a statewide office, please put statewide.
Have you or someone you loved ever experienced a mental health and/or substance use condition?
Question #1: Colorado, like the rest of the nation, is facing a youth mental health crisis. Do you support school policies and funding that increase the availability of mental health services and supports in schools and early childhood settings?
Would you like to explain your response to question #1?
The youth mental health crisis is so intense in Colorado that we have to move to increase referrals, services and supports in general. Doing this in schools is just a part of that.
Question #2: Do you believe mental health and substance use are serious issues your constituents are experiencing that deserve legislative attention and action? Please explain.
Both mental health and substance use issues are indeed something being experienced by some of my constituents. I am glad that we have increased crisis services available across the state but more support through the office of behavioral health is needed. This need could require legislative involvement.
Question #3: Extreme risk protection orders, also known as red flag laws, allow law enforcement to temporarily remove weapons from individuals at significant risk to themselves or others. Colorado has a red flag law. Do you support extreme risk protection orders?
Would you like to explain your response to question #3?
I am deeply concerned that removing a freedom of any type can have unintended and unexpected consequence for our populace. But I understand and respect the premise of our red flag laws and their contribution to public safety. Some people need to be flagged for at risk behavior and attitudes. The laws are rarely used but I understand how they are being applied to extenuating and unusual cases.
Question #4: Overdose deaths are at an all-time high nationally and in Colorado. Many believe increasing criminal penalties for people who use drugs is the answer. Do you support increased criminal penalties for people who use drugs? *
(*Please note that we are asking about personal use, not distribution)
Would you like to explain your response to question #4?
The best approach to personal use and misuse of drugs is substance abuse of mental health treatment. Penalties for property and personal crimes (ie. assault, robbery, rape) need to be increased. All of us need to understand the difference between these sets of crimes even though both may be tied to drug usage needs to be examined case by case.
Question # 5: As a follow up question, did you support legislation in the 2022 session that drastically increased the criminal penalty for possession of any substance over 1g if that substance contains any amount of fentanyl?
Would you like to explain your response to question #5?
I was not an elected official at that time, but I would not have supported this legislation and I would have voted in opposition to many of my fellow Democrats.
Question #6: Do you believe the State should invest more funding for mental health and substance use? If yes, please explain where you would want additional funding to be directed. If no, please explain why.
On its face, it seems like something should be increased along the line funding for services. However, Colorado has set aside $450 million for one-time investments in behavioral health from the American Rescue Plan Act for use by December 31, 2026. I need to see more assessment out of the office of Behavioral Health to understand if this amount is adequate for that task. I would want additional funding to be directed to drug rehab for clients on Medicaid. I would also like to see more funding for outreach to students. The youth need interventions that pull them away from substance abuse before adulthood – if possible. .
Question #7: People needing care, supports, and services for their mental health and substance use often experience discrimination as a result of their health condition. Would you support legislation that would protect people needing care, supports, and services for their mental health and substance use conditions from discriminatory practices?
Would you like to explain your response to question #7?
I don’t understand how discrimination in these cases work. In order to support legislation, I need more information on the subject. Mostly I am interested in increasing access to care, supports and services for patients mental health and substance use conditions into settings that are inclusive. I am not sure that is a legislative matter. I am open to learning more.
Question #8: For too long the state’s criminal justice system has acted as a substitute for a comprehensive mental health care system. Would you support policies that would disentangle mental health from the criminal justice system and promote the expansion of programs like Denver’s STAR program?
Would you like to explain your response to question #8?
I see the criminal justice system as separate from the mental health system which makes for issues in getting medication to mental health patients that go to jail or prison. I have also been told that jails and prisons do not have to provide these items to prisoners. OR even fi the medications are required they are often not provided to patients. I’m concerned about that. I also heard that Medicaid can not be used in these spaces. So I am not sure how they can be disentangled since they appear to be disconnected to begin with. I’m open to learning what is meant by “tangled”. I would like to see mental health oriented emergency calls handled by referral into the mental health system if that is what you mean. In Colorado Springs we have a Community Response Team that sends medical, mental and police personnel on calls. They assess and handle the crisis accordingly.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I have worked in family systems, with developmentally delayed clients and in school systems with students that have special needs. I have watched mentally ill citizens at the ground level and see how important it is to handle these populations in a better way than now. I believe that we need to treat these chronic MEDICAL conditions without stigma, judgement or bias. We can find ways to assist and help the vulnerable that have mental illness or substance abuse issue through law making.