The recent challenges presented by COVID-19 emphasize the importance of access to quality mental health care for all Coloradans. This issue remains a top priority for my work in the legislature and is necessary to ensure the full recovery of all Coloradans.
The isolation requirements necessary to combat COVID-19 have exacerbated mental health care challenges, even for those that never contract or know anyone that contracts the virus. The lack of in-person socialization, and/or solitary isolation, places an extreme amount of stress and often creates or worsens mental health challenges. I am prepared to not only address recovery for the physical health and economic challenges that COVID-19 presents but prepared to address recovery for mental health challenges as well.
Over the last three years, Colorado has seen the highest increase in adolescent suicide of any state in the Country and two-thirds of homeless individuals in Colorado begin the cycle of homelessness because of mental health challenges. Colorado’s largest mental health facility is a county jail and we are using our jail system as the most common attempted treatment of mental health conditions. We must do better.
My priorities include addressing mental health care parity laws; rethinking our approach to adolescent mental health, including ensuring that mental health counselors are an essential part of our public education system; and eliminating the use of prisons as replacements for quality mental health facilities. I am the only candidate to have a policy paper on mental health which can be found at https://www.paletzforcolorado.com/mentalhealth.