DENVER– The Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force plans to meet in August to decided where and how to dedicate the $450 million received from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Vincent Atchity, Mental Health Colorado president & CEO, said, “It is time for us to make a bold move to address homelessness, promote substance use harm reduction and recovery, and end the use of jails and prisons as our de facto psychiatric facilities. We have been systematically neglecting and criminalizing Coloradans with health needs, and that’s just not the kind of people we should want to be. We need to be systematic about taking better care of one another.”
Mental Health Colorado says that they believe the state of Colorado should set aside $165 million of the total received to increase patient bed availability and support various recovery program needs.
Colorado falls over 2,600 beds short of the ideal state number of beds for inpatients considering its population.
Atchity said, “People who need inpatient and residential levels of care are living in parks and under bridges and are being warehoused in our county jails at great cost to taxpayers because the state lacks the commitment and infrastructure needed to care for Coloradans. We need care, not cuffs.”
This funds allocation discussion follows the Children’s Hospital Colorado announcement of a “state of emergency” for youth mental health for the state.
Senator Cleve Simpson said that access to mental health resources is vital for all Coloradans, especially in the rural regions of the state.
“Incident rates for suicide, overdoses, and other behavioral health issues are incrementally higher in rural Colorado as compared to our urban counterparts. It’s vitally important we all take the time and effort to work towards solutions that include inpatient care for all Coloradans,” Simpson said.
Both the General Assembly and Governor Polis will be meeting with the task force in order to appropriately allocate the funds when it gathers in August.