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February 2, 2017

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Report Now Available for Viewing

Improving timeliness, reducing stigma, and increasing early detection are among recommendations

Boulder County, Colo. - A group of Boulder County organizations has released the Mental Health Community Assessment on the state of mental health and substance use treatment services in Boulder County. The group - made up of the Boulder County departments of Housing and Human Services, Community Services, and Public Health, as well as local behavioral health providers, nonprofits, advocacy groups, and consumers - conducted the study over several months.

This study occurred through a collaboration known as Community of Hope, which seeks to help improve the economic, environmental, and social conditions in Boulder County.

The Community of Hope Mental Health Community Assessment identified five key focus areas to enhance prevention and treatment services for mental health and substance use in Boulder County:

  • Improve timeliness and ease of access to services
  • Seek to reduce stigma
  • Increase early detection and health promotion
  • Reduce inappropriate incarceration through improved access to and utilization of assessment and treatment services
  • Increase the overall availability and range of services

“Mental health is vital to our ability to live a stable and healthy life,” said Boulder County Public Health Director Jeff Zayach. “This study and its recommendations will be very helpful for all of us as we work to make it easier for Boulder County residents to get the right help where and when they need it.”

The report, which incorporated surveys of Boulder County residents, interviews and focus groups with subject matter experts, and analysis of key takeaways from community conversations, also highlights other barriers to accessing mental health services, such as limited housing for the homeless, a scarcity of trained mental health providers in the schools, a growing paucity in the behavioral health workforce, and a lack of early childhood mental health promotion.

“The Community of Hope study confirms much of what we know,” said Kelly Phillips-Henry, CEO of Mental Health Partners, Boulder County’s largest provider of mental health and substance use treatment. “As a community, we need to get more mental health services to more people earlier in their need. Timely access to care is so crucial, and it will take the entire provider community—public, private, and nonprofit—working together if we are to address this successfully.”

Mental health disorders account for nearly 25 percent of disability in the United States, and are the top cause of early death. Mental illness affects everyone, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or age.

In the months ahead, the Community of Hope Mental Health Community Assessment will serve as a focus of conversations between Boulder County service providers along with non-profit and other governmental partners, who will collaboratively determine next steps.

“It’s exciting to have this Community of Hope initiative helping guide a county-wide conversation,” said Boulder County Commissioner Deb Gardner. “Every issue we face can be best addressed through collaboration, and we see this study and the discussions that will follow as the first big step in that direction.”