Mental health bills worth the effort
Last updated 4/27/2021 at 1:57pm | View PDF
You may have seen or heard that the governor signed two mental health bills this past week. Mental health bills are nothing new; we've seen them every year in my tenure in the Senate. Given the of the breadth of the problem, there will be even more this year.
There are no shortages of examples of mental health issues. Earlier this session I was in a meeting when one of the legislators received a text that a seventh-grader in one of his rural schools had committed suicide. We have the shooter at the Boulder King Soopers, a prime example of a young man in his 20s that had severe mental issues. We have business owners and workers who lost their means of making a living due to the pandemic. They find themselves losing everything and unable to care for their families. Those issues bring tremendous stress and prey on the mental health of everyone involved.
"To the bill," as we say on the Senate floor. If you are a limited government person, creating a new state agency to deal with mental health may make you cringe. However, I heard in a subcommittee hearing on youth mental health that there are 114 mental health programs buried in state agencies. That means there are 113 wrong doors that could be opened when someone is looking for help.
It will take a few years to get something with that many tentacles corralled and functioning, but the goal is "no wrong door" when it comes to mental health. The last thing someone in crisis needs to hear is, "Sorry, we don't deal with that here, call someone else." I overcame my aversion to another state agency and supported this bill. If we can actually bring all of those programs under one umbrella, not only will we be providing support for people in crisis but we should be able to do it much more efficiently and effectively than having 114 programs operating in their own silo with their own phone number and staff.
The other bill is aimed at suicides and delivering meaningful help to families and individuals before another attempt is made. Often loved ones have no idea of where to turn when someone in the family has attempted suicide. This bill will serve as a guide to those resources.
Kudos to the many, many people who worked behind the scenes and sat on numerous committees and task force meetings to distill thousands of hours of work to get these two bills ready to be introduced and passed. These bills are not silver bullets that will solve every mental health issue, but we expect them to bring meaningful resources to the people that need them.
I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capitol. Lots of ways to stay in touch; Office phone: 303-866-4877, Mobile phone: 719-351-2121, Email: [email protected], Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey