Glenwood to bid on mental health crisis response program

New crisis response units for the most troubled mental health patients could be coming to a town near you under a bill signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday.

The measure, SB266, was one of several measures the governor signed into law over the past two days.

The bill allocates $20 million for grants to local mental health facilities to create a statewide crisis response program. It’s part of the state’s response to recent mass shootings in Aurora and Connecticut.

In addition to the units, the measure is one part of a five-part crisis system that includes a 24-hour crisis hotline for people to talk through their difficulties, walk-in crisis centers to do the same thing in person, and an advertising campaign to educate Coloradans about the new services and the importance of not ignoring mental health treatment in general.

The new law also calls for residential and respite crisis services in five population centers for those patients to stay for up to five days.

The Glenwood Springs-based Colorado West Regional Mental Health, which provides mental health and substance abuse treatment in 10 Western Slope counties, could be home to one of the units.

The nonprofit agency, which has been offering mental health services to the Grand Valley since 1972, intends to bid on one of the contracts the state would offer under the bill to provide services it doesn’t already, officials there have said.

Another piece of the Legislature’s response to the shootings was a measure to create a special task force to examine the state’s laws when it comes to committing persons to a mental health facility against their will.

That measure, HB1296, initially tried to consolidate state laws that allow that, but too many legal questions arose about when someone could be involuntarily committed when they pose a danger to themselves or others.

“Our laws are confusing, so this task force will consider how to make our mental health system more efficient,” said Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, one of the sponsors of that measure.

Other measures signed by Hickenlooper include SB111, which requires certain people who often deal with the elderly, such as pharmacists, financial institutions and clergy, to report suspected incidents of elder abuse.


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