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Wrapping up Mental Health Awareness Month

By News

Wrapping Up Mental Health Awareness Month

This May we have been celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month in some new ways – most of them virtual. As we close out this month, I wanted to share why it is so important to us at The Center for Mental Health.

Mental Health Awareness Month began in 1949. It was started by Mental Health America to raise awareness, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support mental health. Every year in May we take time to promote mental health issues and try to break down the stigma that is often associated with seeking help.

In an effort to break down the stigma, the industry has turned to the term “behavioral health.” This term seeks to include both mental health issues and substance use disorders. One in 12 American adults has experienced a substance use disorder and 1 in 5 has experienced a mental illness during the past year. That equates to 467,000 Colorado adults who experienced a substance use disorder and over one million who experienced a mental illness. Approximately one quarter of these individuals received treatment at one of Colorado’s 17 Community Mental Health Centers.

On October 31, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act into law. This led to the establishment of Community Mental Health Centers throughout the country so that anyone who needed care could receive it. This helped people with mental illnesses who were “warehoused” in hospitals and institutions move back into their communities. A growing body of evidence at that time demonstrated that mental illnesses could be treated more effectively and in a more cost-effective manner in community settings than in traditional psychiatric hospitals.

The Center for Mental Health is one such Community Mental Health Center and currently serves clients in Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties.

Our goal is to provide behavioral healthcare to anyone in our communities who may need it. We know that good mental health is essential to overall health and personal well-being. Emotional problems can impair a person’s thinking, feelings, and behavior and, over time, can become increasingly serious and disabling.

As a local Community Mental Health Center, we try to make sure everyone has access to affordable, high-quality care. Offering 24/7 crisis and support services, individual and group therapy, and maintaining offices in rural areas are just some of the ways we support our residents.

During this time of COVID-19, we have watched our communities pull together in countless ways to support one another. It is critical that our neighbors feel connected and supported during this time. As we close out this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month, we encourage you to continue caring for each other. If you see someone who needs extra support, please reach out and use The Center for Mental Health as your community resource.

Shelly J. Spalding, CEO
The Center for Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

By Media Coverage, News

The Center for Mental Health offers a number of services to help community members find ways to cope with COVID-19 stressors.

Mental Health Awareness month has been recognized in the United States every May since 1949. The main focus during the month is to raise awareness about mental health issues and help stop the stigma associated with it.

“We have to take care of our mental health as much as we would take care of our physical health. We do live in a very stressful world ordinarily and covid is just adding to that currently, getting the help that people need and reaching out to get the support is an important part of overall wellness and decreasing the stigma,” said Sara Palmer, Center for Mental Health.

The Center for Mental Health in Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties offers a number of services to help community members, families and individuals find meaningful ways to cope in today’s world. The center offers “same day” access and is open to new clients.

With the added stress of COVID-19 the center has put together a number of helpful client services according to Kristen Mau, director of marketing and communications.

“Our goal is to be a resource for people so that they can get the behavioral health care that they need. Obviously covid has shifted the way we’re doing that because we can’t meet in person the way we traditionally have been,” Mau said.

During the stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders the center has moved to providing services remotely either by telephone or by video teletherapy. While the facilities are open, many clients are accessing the new technology.

Twenty-five percent of clients opted for video teletherapy sessions from April 1 to April 18. In February the number was at 3%, and the numbers are expected to increase as the clients become more accustomed to video therapy sessions.

“It has been embraced quite well. Our teletherapy sessions are locked to ensure security. We are open in person at our Delta, Montrose, Ridgway locations; however, we have seen a reduction in people coming in due to COVID-19 so having the teletherapy and telephone option has allowed people who may have had barriers in the past access our services,” Palmer said.

Clients and non-clients can also access The Center Support Line open 24/7. Mau said the service is a way for people who are feeling stressed, anxious, or just need to speak with a trained staff person. The local support line began in response to the coronavirus pandemic as an extension of the original crisis line.

“We did a lot of training with our staff to be able to offer expanded information and kind of triage people calling in so they have a place to call somebody who is trained in helping with coping skills… and we’ve had a lot of positive feedback so, it’s a great resource for us to offer,” she said.

The week of April 19 to April 25, calls from the Center Support Line were up 27%. Mau said their support line will also help families who are food insecure or have other needs find resources. Anyone in the community can call 970-252-6220 and speak with a trained mental health staff member.

Another vital resource to help people cope during times of isolation is the center’s Facebook live “Coping with COVID” chats every Tuesday at noon. The chats began about a month ago, according to Mau who said one benefit to the platform is the rebroadcast.

“We’re getting a lot of viewership especially after, because the time may or may not be convenient for people. So, someone may have time in the evening to go back and watch it. We’ve been pretty pleased with the response,” Mau said.

The weekly chat features two clinicians who have a passion for communicating via Facebook and differs from the traditional formal webinar. Audience participation is encouraged by sending in email questions prior to the show or during the chat.

Another tool offered by the center during the COVID-19 crisis is the online wellness resource. The free tool can be accessed by anyone by using the code CMHSupport.

“It has all sorts of coping strategies, a coaching tool and a variety of mental health topics such as coping with anxiety, depression and covid. It’s a really great application that people can access from their home 24 hours a day,” Palmer said.

One change mental health professionals would like to change is the “social distancing” message to “physical distancing.”

“People are so separated from friends and family and support systems, so it’s important to maintain social connectedness. It’s really important to stay socially connected via Zoom, by phone or by whatever means is safe. Maintaining those relationships is more important now than ever so, please follow the physical distancing guidelines but find ways to stay socially connected to your support system,” Mau said.

Mental Health Awareness month will continue to be an important focus for the center during the rest of May.

“That’s the power of it being a nationwide month. Because you can’t just break down the stigma in one place. It’s a societal stigma, so for us we try to do a lot of outreach during the month. We can talk about mental health, we can be open about mental health, there’s nothing wrong with getting help. We’re all in this together and whatever you need to be a whole person is really important and we should be able to talk about it,” said Mau.

Moving ahead, the center is looking to provide mental health services designed especially for healthcare and frontline workers dealing directly with the fallout from COVID-19.

By Lisa Young

Staff writer

Delta County Independent | May 20, 2020
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Lone Cone Mountain

CMH Expands Services and Moves to New Naturita Location

By News, Press Release


Kateylyn Metcalf

The Center for Mental Health Expands Services and Moves to New Naturita Location

Naturita, Colorado – May 18, 2020 – The Center for Mental Health in Naturita has a new location as of May 1st, 2020. Previously located at Basin Clinic, The Center for Mental Health (CMH) has moved to a new building to better serve the behavioral healthcare needs of the local community.

CMH is appreciative of the Basin Clinic and the opportunity of working together over the past several years and plans to continue the important community partnership in future endeavors. To continue growth and expansion of the mental health resources CMH offers in the community, the location has moved inside the Vista Realty offices at 212 E. Main St. in Naturita.

At this new location CMH will be providing behavioral health counseling, substance use treatment services, and psychiatric appointments. Clients of CMH will also have phone and video teletherapy access to all services which include:

  • CMH Naturita LocationIndividual Therapy for All Ages
  • Group Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Psychiatry and Medication Management
  • Substance Use Counseling
  • DUI Services
  • Psychological Evaluations
  • Peer Services

Clients will have private, secure access to the on-site, in-office teletherapy system to easily access any CMH programs and providers across the six-county region The Center for Mental Health serves. This location will be open by appointment only – call 970.252.3200 to make an appointment.

Laura Byard, regional director at The Center for Mental Health says “We are committed to serving this community and expanding access to our programs with this new location. We are actively looking for a locally-based clinician to serve this important area.”

In addition, residents of Naturita have access to the services offered by the Crisis Walk-In Center centrally located in Montrose, open 24 hours a day, 7 days week.

The Center for Mental Health is a nonprofit organization seeking to promote mental health and well-being. It provides behavioral health services across 10,000 square miles including Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties. Visit to learn more.

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Funeral urn with yellow roses

Coping during COVID

By News

Viral emergency changes funeral practices

Saying goodbye is an important step in grieving, but the COVID-19 emergency has put traditional funerals on hold, which can affect the grieving process.

The state’s transition from a stay-home order to the slightly looser safer at home order does not change the restrictions on large gatherings: there can be no more than 10 people, including for funeral services.

“Our concern is protecting the community, but we will plan on doing what the state guidelines (say), in keeping groups down to 10 or less for any type of burial or memorial, and we encourage people to have a memorial service that everyone can attend when the ban is lifted,” director Daryl Pridy of Crippin Funeral Home said.

Taylor Funeral Home in Delta is also going by the state guidelines, director Chalmer Swain said. That mortuary also encourages people to plan memorials at a later date.

“If we have a graveside service, we hold it to 10 or fewer, or immediate family only,” Swain said.

Both funeral homes conduct burials by setting the services up in a way that does not require staff to be close by. Instead, critical staff remain at a distance to observe and then complete burials after the mourners have gone.

“The ban isn’t necessarily because of the deceased person. It’s because of everyone else,” Pridy said.

The state is limiting gatherings to reduce the opportunity for spreading the coronavirus, which causes a potentially deadly respiratory ailment. People can have the virus, but not yet show signs. Events like funerals also tend to attract people from many locations, which further increases the possibility of contact with an as-yet asymptomatic person.

Survivors do seem to understand the limitations, Pridy said.

“This has been in the front of everyone’s mind so much. Everyone we’ve dealt with knows about the ban. I think they’re mentally adjusted, for the most part. We’re not breaking a surprise to them. Everyone has been pretty good to work with in that way,” Pridy said.

“I do think it has an effect on the family, where not all the close friends and relatives can attend. I do think it is a more emotional experience for the family.”

People may experience feelings of guilt or lack of closure and isolation because of the changes, said Amanda Jones, chief clinical officer for The Center for Mental Health.

“Individuals who are experiencing the loss of a loved one during this time are not only managing a personal loss, but also the loss of rituals and traditions that help us with the grieving process,” Jones said. “Ways in which some individuals honor someone who has died, such as funerals or other gatherings, have been limited or simply not organized because of health-mandated restrictions.” “Despite these challenging circumstances, there are ways that we can support ourselves and others during this difficult time.”

The situation is not the fault of the bereaved, nor does it lie in their control, Jones said, adding there is no right or wrong way to experience loss. People can still reach out to others and connect with others who are grieving. They can take time to share memories.

“There will be a time that you will be able to come together with friends and family to celebrate the life of your loved one, so allow time to think about how that might be in the future,” Jones said.

Those who are grieving also need to take care of themselves, by eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and physical activity.

“Take time for yourself to do these things that also make you happy and allow opportunity for pushing forward in your life,” Jones said.

The funeral homes continue following universal precautions when they take charge of bodies, regardless of how the person died. Pridy said Crippin staff treat all remains as though the person might have had a virus, and wear protective gear to protect themselves, as well as people living in the residences or facilities where staff arrive.

In instances when the deceased is believed to have had COVID-19, mortuary workers place a mask on that person’s face, too, in case air expels from their lungs as they are moved.

“We don’t want to be carriers and spreaders of it. That’s why we are maintaining our distance and doing everything by phone or email,” Pridy said.

Crippin and Taylor have been conducting much of their business by phone and email, as well. The relaxation of state restrictions may allow them to have a few more in-person meetings, but with social distancing and other precautions in place.

“I think we’re all ready to get back to normal, if that can ever happen again. It’s very hard when you see the families and you can’t help them,” Swain said.

“We may be able to meet with people on more of a one-to-one basis,” Pridy said. “We’re looking forward to everything being over and the state being opened up, but business will remain (as is) until they raise the group ban, as far as funerals.”

Montrose Daily Press
Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.
Montrose Daily Press | April 28, 2020
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Resources for Bereavement Services

The Center for Mental Health maintains a free, 24-7 support line for those experiencing grief, or anyone feeling anxious or in need of a listening ear: 970-252-6220 or

The center also hosts live Facebook chats for coping with COVID. For new and current clients, the center has secure, tele-therapy sessions available. Call 970-252-3200 to learn more about same-day access services or visit

The center’s walk-in crisis center remains open for those experiencing a behavioral health crisis; location is 300 N. Cascade Avenue, Montrose.

People in crisis can also call 970-252-6220 or 844-493-8255.

The Center Support Line is Open

By News, Press Release

New Behavioral Health Support Line Available for Those in Need


Jackie Brown-Griggs

Montrose, Colorado – March 31, 2020 – The Center for Mental Health (The Center) in Montrose, Colorado is reinforcing its message to the Western Slope community that behavioral care professionals are available for current clients and for those needing mental health counseling. As the Covid-19 virus continues to spread, individuals may have an increased need for counseling as anxiety, depression, addiction issues, and feelings of isolation increase.The Center Support Line: 970-252-6220

The Center now offers The Center Support Line at 970-252-6220. It is a phone line which is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week for those seeking someone to talk to for extra support during this difficult time.The Center Support Line is staffed by trained health care providers who can offer immediate support or direct individuals to other resources. As appropriate, callers may be connected directly to the front desk to learn about services and scheduling. Individuals who need to schedule regular sessions or those seeking new mental health services are encouraged to call (970) 252-3200 during business hours to learn more.

The Center Support Line is an extension of The Center’s crisis line and is staffed by mental health professionals who have been specially trained to answer support calls. “Physical isolation can initiate feelings of despair, so we want to be available to help people cope,” said Amanda J. Jones, Chief Clinical Officer for The Center. Since Covid-19-related “stay-at-home” and physical-distancing mandates went into effect, the calls to The Center have increased. “Based on the increased number of calls we have been receiving, it became apparent that our six-county region needed an additional resource to access behavioral health care.”

In order to meet the needs of the community, The Center is actively offering same-day, in- person appointments for new clients in Montrose, Ridgway and Delta, or via teletherapy. Teletherapy includes telephone and online video sessions to maintain physical distancing guidelines. “It’s important to note that although teletherapy is a different approach from in-person therapy, the care is administered by The Center’s trained professionals. Our teletherapy services are secure, personal, compassionate and effective,” says Jones.

Due to stay-at-home mandates, all CMH offices on the Western Slope now offer teletherapy to their current clients and to those in the community who recognize they may need help. “The health of our clients and those who need to access behavioral healthcare is paramount right now,” said Shelly Spalding, CEO of The Center for Mental Health. “In spite of the challenges of the day, the continuity of care is important, and we are working to meet the needs of our community.”

In the interest of public health, The Center has swiftly transitioned to these virtual care options (telephone and video-based) for most services, including care management, individual and group outpatient therapy, and/or psychiatry. The Center is committed to following guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as mandates by Governor Polis. As a provider of essential healthcare services, it will remain open and dedicated to serving both new and existing clients.

For those who are in crisis and need immediate care, the Crisis Walk-in Center at 300 N. Cascade Avenue in Montrose is available 24-hours, seven days a week and remains open.

“It is critical that all residents on the Western Slope have access to behavioral health support,” emphasized Spalding. “Regardless of how difficult the current situation may be, we will continue to create innovative methods to care for our community.”

The Center for Mental Health is a nonprofit organization seeking to promote mental health and well-being. It provides behavioral health services across 10,000 square miles including Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel Counties. Visit to learn more.

CMH Crisis Walk-in Center in Montrose

Entities win grants to ramp up addiction treatment

By Media Coverage, News

Enhanced levels of substance use treatment are in the pipeline for Montrose, which experts hope will lead to lower addiction rates.

The Center for Mental Health and River Valley Family Health Center each recently received a cut of $4.6 million made available to rural communities through the state Office of Behavioral Health. The grant fund was established under a law passed last year to help increase resources for rural areas grappling with addiction. The local allocations are being disbursed through the managed service organization, West Slope Casa.

The Center received almost $515,000, which it will use to develop an intensive outpatient treatment program, and River Valley nabbed about $240,000 that will help it add a dedicated provider for medication assisted treatment for addiction.

“We were excited to be recipients,” said Amanda Jones, chief clinical officer for the Center for Mental Health.

The Center has two targets: the intensive outpatient treatment, based in Montrose and open to other substance use treatment providers for referrals, plus increasing professional training and credentialing of staff.

“The reason for our interest in wanting to expand this particular level of care is, one, that regionally, we do not have an active, open community referral for intensive outpatient treatment,” Jones said.

This type of programming is offered multiple times a week, with varying levels of treatment intervention, including individual and family therapy, psychiatric or medical support, and a strong group treatment format, plus wraparound services.

“It really is taking what is that next level of treatment intervention for people to provide a higher level of care, so that people are getting active and engaged treatment, and so we can hopefully intervene at that level and help people transition and continue to live in the community,” Jones said.

This type of treatment can prevent the need for higher-level care.

“For us, this really was the next level of care to build from outpatient, but also to have a level of substance use treatment that would help to hopefully prevent the need for longer-term residential treatment where people are needing to be outside of their homes and potentially disrupting their homes or other family members and community members,” Jones said.

Expanding the training and professional credentials of the Center’s workforce will bring another level of expertise to treatment locations, including the detox beds at the Center’s walk-in crisis clinic. More substance use treatment services would flow into the counties where care is provided, as a regional workforce is developed.

The grant allocation constitutes a two-year award, with the possibility of additional funding, and will be used to develop the Center’s framework for intensive outpatient treatment.

The other grant recipient, River Valley, is a federally qualified health clinic with offices in Olathe, Montrose and Delta. It has six providers who are able to write prescriptions for Suboxone, a medication used in medication assisted treatment. But all six of these providers also focus on primary care. The $240,000 River Valley received will be used to hire a provider just for medication assisted treatment, and a nurse. Some of the money also will be applied to the salary of the clinic’s part-time care coordinator.

“Substance abuse is still an issue,” River Valley CEO Jeremy Carroll said. “This grant allows us to allocate an entire medical provider to only the focus of substance use and medication assisted therapy.”

The nurse the clinic is adding will work closely with that provider. The nurse also will be able to visit clients’ homes for induction into medication assisted therapy.

There is a clear need for more substance abuse treatment options, Carroll and Jones said. Although addiction knows no county boundary — and according to the Office of Behavioral Health, more than 54,000 residents received treatment and detox services in fiscal year 2018-19 — the state recognized an acute need in rural areas, which have fewer resources.

“When you look at the needs assessment completed by River Valley, Montrose Memorial Hospital, Delta County Memorial Hospital and the Gunnison hospital, all four of those entities had mental health, substance abuse and opioid addiction in the top of their needs assessment,” Carroll said.

“I feel like there is very much an indicated need for this level of care. … Intensive outpatient programming is a recognized level of care of substance use treatment,” Jones said.

“We have not had that level of care for referral. By not having this level of care before, we’re very excited to be able to, quite frankly, see the impact this will bring to our community.”

Montrose Daily Press

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.
Montrose Daily Press | March 29, 2020
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Mental Health Services Available During COVID-19

By News

Coping with COVID-19

Mental health services available for patients, community

Scientists and mental health professionals generally agree: social isolation can trigger or exacerbate mental health problems. The American Psychological Association notes that while every case is different, there is evidence that links “perceived social isolation with adverse health consequences including depression, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function, and impaired immunity at every stage of life.”

Continue reading

Gunnison Country Times
Chris Rourke is a Times staff writer and can be contacted at 970-641-1414 or
Gunnison Country Times | March 20, 2020
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Video counseling

CMH makes room for increased call volume

By Media Coverage, News

Moving appointments to video or phone

As even the most unfazed of citizens have recently found themselves hoarding toilet paper or at least stocking up on food supplies, perusing news articles about the science and spread of COVID-19, and second-guessing any newly developing cough, all while practicing social distancing and facing economic fallout, it is undeniably a time of increased anxiety for most of the world. Now more than ever, mental health professionals find themselves offering support to people with new, developing or existing needs.

Kirsten Mau, director of marketing and communications for the Center for Mental Health, says it has been a busy time for the center at a regional and local level. Kari Commeford director of the Gunnison County Substance Abuse Prevention Program (GCSAPP), said that while her organization has not seen an uptick in calls, the county’s call center has received many inquiries from people stressed by their symptoms and the uncertainty of whether or not they have COVID-19 in the absence of definitive tests. Call center workers have worked to reassure people and encourage them to remain calm. The organizations are both working to remain open and available to all community members as needed, while also pivoting to comply with county-wide health and public safety restrictions on in-person meetings.
“Obviously, our first priority has been seeing clients,” explains Mau. And for those who find themselves in need of a little extra support right now, Same Day Access is for new clients who are not in crisis but want to get started with services.

The center’s CEO, Shelly Spalding, posted an update earlier this week, stating, “We have established an internal COVID-19 Response Team composed of leaders from various areas of our organization to interact effectively with state and local agencies across our six-county region.”

“Given the situation in Gunnison County and Crested Butte, we are moving all appointments to telephone or video so that we can continue to serve our clients even while our physical location is closed. We are outreaching our clients individually on this. We’d like to ensure the community knows how to access crisis services,” Spalding writes.

Commerford offers this advice as well: “It is an interesting time, and we have the opportunity to help shape how it impacts us, especially our kids. It is important to engage in positive experiences with our children – playing board games, playing outdoors, spending family time. Find ways to stay connected while keeping healthy and following the public health orders. Talk on the phone instead of texting. Most important unplug if you can, listening to and watching media right now can perpetuate stress and anxiety.”

Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis can call the Crisis Line at (970) 252-6220, reach out to Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255.

Crested Butte News
Written by Katherine Nettles
Crested Butte News | March 18, 2020
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The Center For Mental Health Visits State Capitol To Ask Legislators To Help Increase Access To Behavioral Healthcare

CMH Visits State Capitol for CBHC Annual Lobby Day

By News, Press Release

The Center For Mental Health Visits State Capitol To Ask Legislators To Help Increase Access To Behavioral Healthcare


Jackie Brown-Griggs

Montrose, Colorado – January 15, 2020 – The Center for Mental Health will be at the State Capitol building on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 for Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council (CBHC) annual Lobby Day at the Capitol. This signature day for CBHC highlights the importance of Colorado’s community behavioral health system which includes The Center for Mental Health. The Center for Mental Health provides critical behavioral health services to the residents of Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties. During meetings with legislators, The Center for Mental Health will discuss mental health and substance use disorder needs with the hope of gaining support for local efforts.

This year, the Lobby Day at the Capitol will be focusing on the severe need to strengthen the system’s workforce through increased reimbursement, salaries, and retention strategies such as student loan forgiveness.  Over the past 21 years, community provider inflationary increases have fallen so far behind that providers have lost more than 36.7% of their spending power as compared to the inflation rate across our state. Additionally, compared to state employee salary survey increases, community providers have lagged by 33.5%. As this issue has continued to worsen over the years, it has caused a shortage of behavioral health providers who serve our most vulnerable populations. It is crucial that efforts be taken to close this funding gap.

The Center for Mental Health will also be lobbying to increase opportunities to expand Mental Health First Aid, an eight-hour course which teaches the signs and symptoms of someone in a behavioral health crisis. Proposed legislation would appropriate funding to the Colorado Department of Education to contract for a train-the-trainer program designed to increase behavioral health training opportunities for K-12 educators and faculty. The Center for Mental Health is very pleased that this legislation will be a top priority as the bill, SB20-001, was the first to be introduced in the Senate in 2020.

The Center for Mental Health looks forward to meeting with legislators during the first days of the 2020 legislative session to ensure that Coloradans in our service area can access excellent and affordable behavioral health care. To learn more about the legislative efforts, visit

The Center for Mental Health is a nonprofit organization seeking to promote mental health and well-being. It provides behavioral healthcare services through more than ten facilities across 10,000 square miles serving the residents of Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties. Visit to learn more.