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August 24, 2021
Conversation Corner

If we are going to be successful in reforming our behavioral health system, we have to stay focused on our long-term goals.

With so many people in need of help, that is much harder to do than it sounds. We know that our current system is fragmented, making it almost impossible for people to maneuver. 

I have heard countless stories from Coloradans who stopped trying to get mental health or substance use assistance because they couldn’t figure out how and where to get services. For years, providers have shared how the administrative burden of the State’s fragmented system takes them away from patient care, and drives up costs.

The good news: These are problems we can solve.

The less-than-good news: It will take some time to solve these problems. That does not mean that we should give up.

Per legislation, the BHA is expected to be partially functional by July 2022. A phased approach to getting the BHA fully operational is the best way for us to ensure we do it the right way. What is most important to know is that the BHA will not be able to solve all of our system’s problems overnight. That does not mean we shouldn’t do it. We must stay focused on the long goal.

Meanwhile, there are still people who need help. Fortunately, there are providers who are doing good work and offering services across the State. And as we reform our system, the ability to access those services will only get better. 

Summer Gathercole
Senior Advisor for Behavioral Health Transformation
Weigh In

What is the most pressing behavioral health issue in your community currently? 

Share your thoughts!
Report Out

Last month we asked, How does equity show up in behavioral health reform? Check all that apply. 

  • 67% said building and retaining a diverse workforce
  • 50% said providing culturally-responsive care
  • 30% said care coordination planning
  • 16% said improved services for LBGTQ+ Coloradans
Implementation Update

CDHS Executive Director Michelle Barnes Gives Update on BHA Model
After months of research and discussion, we are continuing to identify the elements of the proposed Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) model that will put people first. Michelle Barnes, executive director of the Colorado Department of Human Services and chair of the Behavioral Health Reform Executive Committee, gave an update on the Committee’s work during a Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing summit last week. View the presentation slides

What's Next?
The Behavioral Health Reform Executive Committee needs your input as we finalize the model. In the coming weeks, we’ll offer several opportunities for feedback to ensure the model works for communities, providers and consumers. Your input will inform our final recommendation and report to the Colorado legislature, due November 1, 2021.

Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force Begins Interim Work

On August 17 the Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force held their first meeting of the interim session. The Legislature created this Task Force to issue a report to the General Assembly and Governor Polis that outlines recommendations to transform behavioral health using $450 million from the federal Coronavirus state fiscal recovery fund. 
Several Behavioral Health Reform Executive Committee members serve on the Task Force—including Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera, Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) Executive Director Michelle Barnes, Commissioner of Insurance Michael Conway and Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing Executive Director Kim Bimestefer—as well as CDHS Office of Behavioral Health Director Robert Werthwein. You can find Task Force documents and recordings on this webpage.
Join us for the Behavioral Health Task Force Quarterly Update
Former members of Colorado's Behavioral Health Task Force committee and subcommittees will participate in their next quarterly update meeting on Wednesday, September 8 from 3-5 p.m. Members of the public are invited to attend, and the meeting will include American Sign Language interpretation. Register here.
Behavioral Health In the News

5280: Colorado Isn’t Prepared To Deal With the Mental Health Fallout From COVID-19

Colorado Newsline: Behavioral health task force prepares to tackle mental health, overdose crises in Colorado

Fox 21: Denver’s behavioral health task force to convene in Aug.

Pagosa Daily Post: Legislators, Community Members Urge Transformation of Colorado’s Mental Health System

KUNCLeaving Behind Uniforms And Sirens, Summit County Sheriff Expands Crisis Response

Denver 7: New 988 suicide prevention hotline to start in 1 year

Events, Webinars, Opportunities and More

International Overdose Awareness Day is August 31

International Overdose Awareness Day is the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind. The day gains new urgency as nearly 1,480 Coloradans died from an overdose in 2020, a 38% increase from 2019. Find Colorado events here

Youth Scholarships for 2021 CBHC Annual Behavioral Health Conference 

The State Youth Council, in partnership with the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council (CBHC), is excited to offer 17 youth scholarships for the 2021 CBHC Annual Behavioral Health Conference in Breckenridge, Colorado from Sept. 30 through Oct. 2. Applications are due by Sept. 3.

This opportunity is extended to students ages 18-22 interested in the behavioral health field. Scholarship recipients will receive full paid conference registration, three nights complimentary hotel accommodations, and will be paired with one of Colorado’s Community Mental Health Centers for mentorship. Learn more.

Social Spotlight

Did you know Colorado Crisis Services can support those who are struggling with substance use? The CDHS Office of Behavioral Health recently unveiled new public service advertisements focusing on substance use disorder. Please consider sharing this post to raise awareness of this vital service.

Get Involved! 

There are many ways to support this work:

Where We're Headed
Behavioral health reform is underway! Keep track with our project timeline: 
Stay in touch! Sign up for our email list and follow us on social media: 
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Denver, CO 80203

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