Dear Governor Hickenlooper,
Thank you for creating the M-1 Holds Task Force (Task Force) to further examine our state’s current policies and procedures as they relate to mental health holds. We believe that the Task Force’s recommendations should be implemented as quickly as possible. These eight recommendations have the potential to improve the lives of Coloradans who find themselves in the unfortunate position of experiencing a mental health crisis.
Colorado is one of only six states that currently allows those on a mental health hold to be put in jail if no alternative exists. We must must begin to work towards the cessation of this practice as quickly as possible, as no Coloradan should be subjected to this indignity and substandard care. Colorado is better than this.
We do recognize that there are underlying resource challenges to ending this practice, particularly for rural counties and health systems. We ask that the same proactivity and collaboration applied in the Task Force also be invested in addressing these resource issues in the state legislature. This is a step forward that is worth public investment.
As you are well aware, Colorado consistently ranks in the top ten states for number of suicides, and we have growing rates of opioid addiction and alcoholism. Thus, we also urge your administration and the state legislature to pass policies that will help increase network adequacy, ensure that providers are fairly compensated for providing behavioral health treatment, and invest in the next generation of behavioral health care workers. These Task Force recommendations will make Colorado a healthier place, especially in our rural and underserved communities.