States Have Money to Spend on Mental Health, but It May Not Last
September 2, 2021
By: Sophie Quinton
DENVER — Colorado’s known as a mecca for healthy, outdoorsy types. Yet a higher share of state residents than the national average struggle with mental illness, suicidal thoughts or heavy drug or alcohol use, according to federal surveys.
The COVID-19 pandemic—with its accompanying job losses, school closures and bereavements—has made the situation worse.
Now Colorado policymakers are gearing up to spend big on mental health and substance use disorder services, thanks to the March federal COVID-19 relief package, the mammoth American Rescue Plan Act.
Lawmakers this spring voted to spend $550 million that Colorado received under the law on behavioral health services. That’s on top of grants for such services that the law earmarked for the state, as well as emergency funds allocated to Colorado schools that can be spent on efforts to improve students’ mental health.