Colorado Aims To Move Mental Health Out Of The Shadows
May 1, 2017 | By Donna Lynne and John Hickenlooper
Colorado is ranked ninth in the nation for suicide and now there’s an effort to move mental health from the shadows to the forefront.
Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne talked about the shift in attitude and treatment on CBS4 This Morning with CBS4’s Britt Moreno.
“The fact that we’re declaring this Mental Health Awareness Month is a big part of that because the more we talk about it and the more we recognize that one out of every four Coloradans either have a mental health problem or a substance abuse problem, we know we have to attack it the same way we would physical health,” said Lynne.
She said that mental health is connected to a lot of other things going on in your life and that “…those physical symptoms also can trigger mental health symptoms because you are concerned about your health. But mental health as a separate issue, like depression, is also pretty common in Colorado, absent physical disease.”
Mental Health Awareness Month spans the entire month of May and includes an additional focus on those issues impacting Coloradans. Despite the recent push to bring those issues into the spotlight, mental health has been an ongoing conversation in Colorado for years.
“We’ve actually been talking about mental health awareness month since 1949. I think what’s becoming more common is we’re taking it out of the closet. We’re trying to reduce the stigma that’s associated with it and we’re also trying to make sure that Coloradans have the services that they need to be able to treat themselves,” said Lynne.
There is also a big push to get those suffering out of jails, which, due to a lack of diagnosis and resources, is still common in Colorado.
“What you mentioned is called M-1 or emergency holds. A lot of people who are mentally ill end up in jail and I think we all acknowledge that’s not the place for them, there isn’t the care. And they’re not criminals, frankly. So, we’re looking at declaring that jails aren’t really the right place for these people but there are emergency services, mobile services for example, in some of our remote areas of the state,” said Lynne.
Lynne hopes with everyone working together, the state will play a bigger role in creating a healthy environment to help everyone live their best life in Colorado, regardless of their challenges.
“The governor declared that he wants Colorado to be the healthiest state in the country and it’s got to be both physical health and mental health,” said Lynne.