Letter: Lasting solutions for Coloradans in crisis | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Lasting solutions for Coloradans in crisis

Coloradans facing mental emergencies don’t need jail time or timeouts spent in facilities that aren’t equipped to address their specific needs. Instead, to be helped through an already traumatic time, they need a supportive environment that provides the proper psychiatric care. It’s a dark moment when those who need help can’t get it just because the right resources aren’t available at the right time.

On June 9, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed Senate Bill 16-169, which aimed to broaden the location where a person could be held under a 72-hour emergency mental-health procedure without provisions for the psychiatric treatment needed. Conversation surrounding this bill highlighted the fact that Colorado, and especially Colorado’s Western Slope, continues to need more resources for psychiatric treatment. Simply put, we need more psychiatric hospital beds for people facing mental-health crises.

Along with his veto of the bill, the governor also took an important step toward the possibility of help for Coloradans in crisis by directing the Department of Human Services to establish a task force to develop solutions addressing the underlying problem — limited psychiatric resources.

We are ready to see the hope and lasting health that are so desperately needed in our communities, and we are determined to enact change. As the leading provider of mental-health services on the Western Slope, we do not need to wait to be told how severely resources are lacking. We know today that we need double the number of psychiatric hospital beds available to adequately serve our population. Through our “Building Sanctuary, Rebuilding Lives” initiative, we are already working toward that goal, and with the support of our informed communities, we see a brighter, healthier future ahead.

Sharon Raggio

President and CEO, Mind Springs Health, Glenwood Springs

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