Mental Health

Behavioral health has been identified as a public health issue across the nation. Work is underway in Colorado to help reduce stigma, improve access and integrate primary care and behavioral health to see that people get the help they need. Community mental wellness requires a community-level approach. Denver Public Health strives to connect individuals, families, systems and community organizations to better physical and mental health; and to each other, within a stronger network of safety and support.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

  • One in five adults in America experience a mental illness. Mental illness affects more than one million people in Colorado.
  • Approximately one in 25 adults in the U.S. - 10 million, or 4.2% - experience a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with, or limits, one or more major life activities.
  • Approximately 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with mental illness, and an estimated 46% live with severe or persistent mental illness, and/or substance abuse disorders.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10-24. More than 90% of those who die by suicide had one or more mental disorders.
  • Fifty percent of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by the age 14, and 75% by age 24.
  • Serious mental illness costs America $192.2 billion in lost earning every year.
  • Nearly 60% of adults with mental illness didn't receive mental health services in the previous year.
  • African Americans and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about half the rate of whites in the past year, and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate.

Mental illness is common, but treatable. However, stigma is a major reason people do not seek treatment.

The Metro Public Health Behavioral Health Collaboration (MPHBHC), is a partnership of the five local public health agencies serving the Denver Metro region: 

This joint effort will be a regional approach to working with primary care and behavioral health partners to increase access to screening and integrated treatment for behavioral health issues for low-income people in the seven-county Denver metro region. The MPHBHC will collaborate strategically with health care deliver partners across our region, assessing how local public health efforts can be best impact their current and planned efforts at care integration, and expanded access to behavioral health care. Improving behavioral health care and reducing the burden of behavioral health issues is a long-range effort.

All of this is part of the Colorado State Innovation Model, which is setting the stage for action that will help move the Community Health Promotion Division of Denver Public Health toward the Triple Aim of:

  1. Lowered costs.
  2. Better care.
  3. Improved population health (including mental health).

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