Colorado residents with behavioral health needs are facing geographic isolation, a shortage of services, and other challenges. While there is some good news, more work needs to be done. Here are some major stories coming out of this state.
Colorado Mental Healthcare Improves, But Resources Are Still Lacking
Colorado ranked number 45 among 50 states in the 2023 State of Mental Health in America report, up from number 50 in 2022. Many experts say, however, that this improvement is not good enough. Vincent Atchity, president and CEO at Mental Health Colorado, pointed out that the most recent report relies on data from 2019 and 2020. This does not include information from later in the COVID-19 pandemic, when the effects of isolation and lockdowns are only now becoming obvious.
Individuals throughout Colorado are struggling to find mental health services due to a shortage of providers, from psychiatrists to social workers. Many providers are not accepting new clients or have long waiting lists, and not all providers are suitable for all clients. Plus, Colorado residents are often geographically isolated, and have a difficult time reaching the services they need.
More Colorado Children Making Mental Health ER Visits
The number of kids who visited an emergency room for a mental health or self-harm incident more than doubled between 2016 and 2021, according to the Center for Improving Value in Health Care. The number of visits rose from 2,002 in 2016 to 5,168 in 2021, using data from the Colorado All Payer Claims Database. Anxiety, major depressive disorder, and panic disorder were common diagnoses.
“It means that our healthcare system is being reactive, because by the time you’re in the emergency room or you’ve hurt yourself, in my mind we’ve already sort of failed you as a youth,” says Dr. Chris Rogers, psychiatrist and medical director at HealthONE Behavioral Health and Wellness Center. He noted that children, especially teens, may lack a sense of identity or meaning in life. Social media can also encourage children to compare themselves negatively to their peers, affecting their self-image and mental state.
New Behavioral Health Agency Releases Strategic Plan
The Colorado Behavioral Health Administration (BHA), created by lawmakers in 2022 to address behavioral health needs across the state, has released its 2023-2025 Strategic Plan. BHA is working toward “a people-first behavioral health system that meets the needs of all people in Colorado.” Under its plan, BHA proposes a model that would better coordinate different state agencies and programs and bring them under the administration’s values and mission.
BHA is working with the Office of eHealth Innovation (OeHI) to develop the OwnPath Care Directory to help people find local services. The administration also proposes to work with criminal justice agencies on crisis response and streamline behavioral health licensing regulations.
Behavioral health and addiction treatment providers in Colorado must work to meet high demand for their services while adhering to regulatory changes. Make sure your EHR system helps your organization work more efficiently without sacrificing value.
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