2010s: Renewed Focus on Early Intervention
In 2010, MHAC received a grant from the Statewide Strategic Use Fund that allowed its Pro Bono Counseling & Referral Program to expand to the Pueblo area. This program has continued to thrive, particularly in Pueblo – where there are many volunteers helping with short-term mental health counseling – and throughout the Denver metro area, where MHAC is currently partnered with dozens of organizations that provide free mental health counseling services.
Following the tragic July 2012 mass shooting in Aurora that claimed the lives of 12 individuals and injured many more, mental health issues were thrust into the spotlight here in Colorado. In May 2013, Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill to provide over $20 million in new funding to create a statewide behavioral health crisis response system. MHAC played a leading role in making this historic investment a reality. That same year, the Colorado Mental Wellness Network became an independent organization. The Network and MHAC continue to work together to increase access to quality health care, promote peer-led initiatives, and reduce the stigma connected to mental illness.
As the newly named Mental Health Colorado, the organization has increased its focus on prioritizing advocacy, outreach, and education. Current initiatives include building a statewide network of advocates to deliver change in their communities, convening a series of conversations across Colorado to discuss local barriers in addressing mental health and substance use disorders, and focusing on the behavioral health needs of Colorado’s adolescent population.