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Gov. Hickenlooper introduces plan to redesign, strengthen Colorado's mental health services and support system

Press Release

Location: Denver, CO

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Colorado Department of Human Services Executive Director Reggie Bicha today introduced a plan to redesign and strengthen Colorado's mental health services and support system. The plan is called "Strengthening Colorado's Mental Health System: A Plan to Safeguard All Coloradans."

"For the past five months, in response to the Aurora shooting, we have been working to expand mental health care and services across Colorado," Hickenlooper said. "No single plan can guarantee to stop dangerous people from doing harm to themselves or others. But we can help people from falling through the cracks. We believe these policies will reduce the probability of bad things happening to good people."

Five key strategies form the plan:

Provide the right services to the right people at the right time.
Align three statutes into one new civil commitment law. This alignment protects the civil liberties of people experiencing mental crises or substance abuse emergencies, and clarifies the process and options for providers of mental health and substance abuse services (requires legislative change).
Authorize the Colorado State Judicial System to transfer mental health commitment records electronically and directly to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in real-time so the information is available for firearm purchase background checks conducted by Colorado InstaCheck (requires legislative change).

Enhance Colorado's crisis response system ($10,272,874 budget request).
Establish a single statewide mental health crisis hotline.
Establish five, 24/7 walk-in crisis stabilization services for urgent mental health care needs.

Expand hospital capacity ($2,063,438 budget request).
Develop a 20-bed jailed-based restoration program in the Denver area.

Enhance community care ($4,793,824 budget request).
Develop community residential services for those transitioning from institutional care.
Expand case management and wrap-around services for seriously mentally ill people in the community
Develop two 15-bed Residential Facilities for short-term transition from mental health hospitals to the community.
Target housing subsidies to add 107 housing vouchers for individuals with serious mental illness.

Build a trauma-informed culture of care ($1,391,865 budget request).
Develop peer support specialist positions in the state's mental health hospitals.
Provide de-escalation rooms at each of the state's mental health hospitals.
Develop a consolidated mental health/substance abuse data system

To fund this plan, the governor is asking the General Assembly to approve $18.5 million in the FY 2013-14 budget.

The plan would be implemented through the Office of Behavioral Health at the Colorado Department of Human Services. It would be coordinated and in partnership with the state's Behavioral Health Organizations, Community Behavioral Health Centers, state and local law enforcement, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, the Department of Public Health and Environment, the numerous highly-skilled providers and advocates across the state, and many hospitals and psychiatric emergency medical partners.

"Our goal is to help ensure we have the capacity and quality of mental health supports, services and resources to meet the needs of Coloradans, thereby keeping communities safer for everyone," Bicha said.

Facts sheets related to each part of the plan can be found at

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