Now more than ever, we all face challenges in our lives where we could use extra support. When families have access to behavioral health resources to meet their needs, we strengthen the foundation for families and communities to thrive.

When the demands of raising children are also paired with the challenge of finding behavioral health supports, it can stand in the way of strengthening families. These behavioral health resources and supports were needed before, and are especially needed now doubled with the social isolation and increased financial stressors associated with the pandemic. According to a June 2020 study, 13.3% of U.S. adults surveyed reported starting or increasing substance use to cope with pandemic-related stress or emotions, and 30.9% of U.S. adults surveyed reported experiencing increases in anxiety or depressive disorders. 

Illuminate is supporting and monitoring several bills that are progressing through the state legislature to expand substance use disorder treatment and support options for Coloradans:

SB21-137 Behavioral Health Recovery Act

This bill employs a variety of strategies to strengthen Colorado’s behavioral health system and prepare our state to provide timely, adequate, and high-quality care for individuals who need enhanced support as a result of COVID-19. The bill will specifically support maternal behavioral health and child development by increasing perinatal depression screens, continuing a maternal and child health pilot program, and expanding the perinatal substance use data linkage project.

HB21-1021 Peer Support Professionals Behavioral Health

Simply put, expanding peer supports for people in recovery from mental health and substance use conditions is good for Colorado families. Children do well when their parents do well, and treating parental behavioral health–including through the support of peers–is crucial to supporting child development and parenting. Through the support of peers, parents can build both their own resilience and social connections–both of which are protective factors that lower the risk of child abuse and neglect.

HB21-1130 Expand Transition Specialist Program

The Transition Specialist Program was created a few years ago in order to connect high-risk individuals with housing, program placement, access to behavioral health treatment or benefits, advocacy, and other supportive services. The program has been underutilized due to narrow eligibility requirements, so this bill will expand eligibility utilizing existing funding to ensure 60-100 additional Coloradans get access to these critical services each year.

HB21-1097 Establish Behavioral Health Administration

The Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) would be a single state agency to lead, promote, and administer the state’s behavioral health priorities. If you’d like to contribute to inform solutions on how the BHA can best meet the needs of stakeholders and Coloradans, please register for one of the opportunities below:

  • Virtual Community Open Forum: Open to all to join!
    Thursday, March 18, 2021  /  10:30 am – 12:00 pm MST
    Click here to register for the virtual forum

  • Virtual Community Open Forum: Open to individuals, peers and family members with behavioral health lived experience.
    Wednesday, March 24, 2021  /  3:45 pm – 5:00 pm MST
    Click here to register for the virtual forum
  • Can’t attend the virtual forum? HMA still wants to hear from you!
    Complete the following short survey to share your thoughts.
    Click here to take the stakeholder survey

Working together to ensure families have access to behavioral health resources to meet their needs, we will strengthen the foundation for Colorado families and communities to thrive. Use the Illuminate Colorado Bill Tracker to stay up to date on the progression of bills this session related to strengthening families–including the bill mentioned above.

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