What We Do

Mental Health Colorado advocates for the more than one million Coloradans who experience a mental health or substance use disorder each year. We engage policymakers, providers, the public, and the press to promote early intervention, expand access to affordable services, and eradicate stigma and discrimination. Our efforts range from the Capitol to the classroom.

Our Priorities

  • Increase the availability of high-quality mental health and substance use care for children and their families

    Colorado ranks 48th in the nation for youth mental health. The state’s youth have higher rates of binge drinking than youth across the nation. Prevention and early intervention of mental health concerns ensure that children and adolescents are healthier and avoid problems in later life.

    • Mental Health Colorado developed a School Mental Health Toolkit outlining best practices for schools to support their students’ mental health and wellness. We have a plan to implement these best practices in every school district in the state by 2021.
    • We are expanding the School Mental Health Toolkit to identify best practices to help students and families reduce their risk of developing substance use disorders.
    • We are finalizing an Early Childhood Mental Health Toolkit that includes strategies to promote healthy social emotional development across communities.
    • We are leading efforts to expand the use of school Medicaid so schools can provide mental health services.
    • We are advocating to streamline credentialing for school psychologists.
    • We are working to increase funding for school mental health professionals.

  • Reduce the suicide rate in Colorado

    Colorado ranks among the top ten states in its rate of suicide. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Coloradans ages 10-24, and one in 15 students have attempted suicide in the past 12 months.

    • Mental Health Colorado is leading the fight for extreme risk protection orders, also known as “red flag laws,” that allow law enforcement to temporarily remove weapons from individuals at significant risk to themselves or others. Red flag laws save lives while protecting due process rights.
    • We are advancing legislation for a program that provides follow-up care to individuals after a suicide attempt or overdose.
    • We are leading efforts to further fund zero suicide programs.
    • We are ensuring suicide prevention and mental health promotion strategies are used in every school in the state.

  • Ensure equitable treatment and coverage of mental health and substance use in the health care system

    State and federal laws require insurance plans to provide coverage for mental health and substance use treatment that is equal to the coverage provided for a physical illness. Yet private and public insurance companies often deny coverage for needed mental health or substance use treatment.

    • Mental Health Colorado is persuading the legislature to strengthen laws requiring insurance companies to provide care and coverage for mental health and substance use disorders.
    • We are working with legislators to enforce requirements that insurance companies have enough mental health and substance use professionals to guarantee their members have a choice of provider.
    • We are promoting regulatory changes to require insurance companies to provide evidence of compliance with existing laws.

  • Expand the capacity of mental health and substance use services statewide

    Colorado does not have adequate mental health and substance use service capacity for everyone who needs care. This leads to long wait times or people going out of network or out of state for care. Expanding capacity would enable Colorado to provide the right level of treatment, at the right time, to anyone in need of care.

    • Mental Health Colorado is championing legislation that will provide state funds to expand the capacity for treatment of substance use in under served areas of the state.
    • We produced a plan to track availability of mental health and substance use services for Coloradans in crisis.
    • We are spearheading legislation that funds care coordinators to help people find and access substance use treatment.
    • We are developing a website to help individuals and their families determine the types of treatment available, locate a provider, and understand their insurance coverage rights.

  • Strengthen systems of care for people with severe mental illness and substance use disorders, including individuals with complex or co-occurring conditions

    People with the most severe mental health and substance use disorders often need extra help finding and remaining in care; This includes help with housing, jobs, and transportation. Many people with a severe mental illness or substance use disorder have a high risk of ending up in jail or prison if they do not receive the right services.

    • Mental Health Colorado is promoting state contracting changes that improve the crisis response system so people experiencing substance use disorders, mental illness, or homelessness have access to services.
    • We are crafting solutions to make sure people with mental health or substance use disorders aren’t put in jails or prisons because of their disorder, and individuals have access to adequate treatment while they are in jail and as they transition back to the community.
    • We are advancing legislation to ensure people can create advance psychiatric directives that instruct treatment providers about how the individual should be treated in a mental health crisis that impairs their ability to make decisions for themselves.
    • We are proposing legislation that expands the availability of housing for individuals who are homeless and have substance use or mental health disorders.

  • Ensure families receive the mental health and substance use care they need before, during, and after pregnancy

    For many women who struggle with a mental health or substance use disorder, pregnancy creates an opportunity for treatment and recovery. For women who are severely depressed or addicted, shame and fear may create barriers to seeking help.

    • Mental Health Colorado is crafting policy proposals that require health care providers to identify mental health and substance use disorders and provide follow-up care for women who are pregnant and parenting.
    • We are advocating for changes to laws and regulations to ensure women maintain their Medicaid coverage during the year after their pregnancy so women can provide a healthy environment for their family.
    • We are urging state officials to increase funding for residential and intensive outpatient programs for women with mental health and substance use disorders and their children.
    • We are advocating for coverage for regular maternal mental health and substance use screening.

Our Initiatives

  • Get screened

    Taking a screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to assess your own mental health. Take a confidential quiz to check in with yourself.

    Get Screened
  • Share your story

    Have you experienced a mental health or substance use disorder, or cared for someone who has? Help us demystify mental illness by sharing your story.

    Share Your Story
  • Join the Brain Wave

    At Mental Health Colorado, we’re building a statewide network of advocates; we call it the “Brain Wave.” We need volunteers to identify local barriers to mental health care – and drive solutions. Sign up and become a voice for mental health in your community.

    Join Us
Mental Health Colorado works with state lawmakers, state and local agencies, and mental health providers – among other stakeholders – to remove barriers to care. Our aim: to make Colorado a national leader in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. Our policy leadership has won national recognition. We helped secure the passage of landmark legislation requiring mental health parity, the development of a statewide crisis response system, and the formation of a 24/7 counseling and support service. Learn more about our public policy efforts:

2019 2018 2017 2016 Mental Health Colorado is a strong proponent of universal screening and early detection – “B4Stage4.” Among other priorities, we seek to ensure that schools have the training and resources they need to identify students at risk of mental health disorders and to refer such students to appropriate services. Mental Health Colorado presses insurers and regulators to comply with state and federal law – including the guarantee of mental health as an essential benefit, the adequacy of provider networks, and the enforcement of mental health parity. We also champion measures to integrate mental health care into the primary care system; to address the shortage of mental health professionals, especially in rural Colorado; and to steer our state’s criminal justice system toward rehabilitation, not simply incarceration.
Mental Health Colorado plays a leading role in bringing together providers, consumers, advocates, and other groups to develop new solutions that advance mental health in our state. We sparked the creation of the Jefferson Center for Mental Health, the Colorado Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, the Colorado Mental Wellness Network, and Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners, among other entities. Our commitment to collaboration plays a key role in how we approach our work.
  • Mental Health America
    Mental Health Colorado is a proud affiliate of Mental Health America, the nation’s oldest and strongest voice for mental wellness. For decades, our organization has worked hand in hand with Mental Health America on a range of activities and public education initiatives, including May is Mental Health Month and the B4Stage4 campaign.
  • Behavioral Health Partnership
    In 2009, we spearheaded the Behavioral Health Partnership to unite Colorado’s mental health community. The Partnership includes the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, Advocates for Recovery, the Colorado Association of Addiction Professionals, the Colorado Mental Wellness Network, the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, the Colorado Providers Association, the Colorado Psychiatric Society, the Colorado Psychological Association, Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners, and the Colorado chapters of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Association of Social Workers. Partnership members adopted a shared statement of principles on health care reform and the integration of physical and behavioral health. We continue to work closely with these groups.
  • NIMH Outreach
    The Outreach Partnership Program is a nationwide initiative of the National Institute of Mental Health Office of Constituency Relations and Public Liaison (OCRPL) and is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Program partners with national and state organizations to strengthen the public health impact of research by:
    • Disseminating the latest scientific findings
    • Informing the public about mental disorders and substance abuse
    • Reducing stigma and discrimination
    • Increasing public awareness about the important role of research in the treatment of mental illnesses and addiction disorders, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure
    NIMH website

    Publications for Download

    April 15, 2017 March 15, 2017 March 1, 2017  
  • Mental Health America of Pueblo
    Mental Health America of Pueblo provides education and awareness for understanding mental health issues in the Pueblo community. Individuals or organizations alike are welcome to join. Membership is diverse and includes bankers, attorneys, health professionals, representatives from social service agencies, government employees, and mental health consumers. Mental Health America of Pueblo strives to raise awareness through regularly scheduled educational programs and events. Monthly educational meetings, which are held on the second Wednesday of the month, provide news and statistics that are up-to-date and valuable. For more information, call (719) 966-7642 or send an email to mhapueblo@gmail.com.
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