Treatment, not jail for mental health | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

PUEBLO – It’s estimated that as many as million Coloradans suffer from varying degrees of mental illness, yet most wait too long to seek treatment. More than a thousand suicides are recorded in our state every year.

Andrew Romanoff, the President and CEO of the non-profit advocacy group Mental Health Colorado, wants to change things. At a luncheon hosted by the Pueblo Latino Chamber of Commerce Friday, Romanoff talked about the successful passage of State Senate Bill 207, which ends the practice of so-called mental health holds where patients can be jailed due to their mental status.

Decriminalizing a medical condition, he said, is just a first step.

“Adolescence turns to be the period in which most not all, but most cases of mental illness first manifest their symptoms,” Romanoff said. “That means we ought to do far more around screening and prevention and early intervention, especially by using school-based mental health services.”

The bill also commits $7 million a year to help fund mental health outreach programs such as school-based programs and tele-health services.