Posted inOpinion, Opinion Columns

Opinion: Colorado’s first mental-health commissioner must be more than a symbolic hire

In a perfect world, every state in America would have a dedicated leader focused on mental health. Unfortunately, this often amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking. In the eyes of state leaders, such a role is just too unfamiliar, or too much to ask for. Sure, we have people who oversee mental-health programs in […]

Posted inHealth

On Edge: Colorado’s behavioral health chief opens up about his own severe depression

Some words fail us, and for Robert Werthwein, “depression” is one of them. The 41-year-old director of Colorado’s Behavioral Health Office prefers to say “everything turned to complete shit” when his identical twin, Ryan, died of a brain tumor a week before their 15th birthdays, and that his life pretty much sucked for the decade […]

Posted inCrime and Courts, Health

Pairing mental health counselors with police on calls shows promise in Colorado

Greeley Police Department Commander Rafael Gutierrez does not long for a simpler past, when dispatchers would get a call for someone threatening suicide and his only realistic option was handcuffs and a short stay on high watch in jail. Such an episode would typically be followed by a quick release back to the community, and […]

Posted inColoradans, Health, News, Politics and Government

Colorado’s splintered mental health system has had tragic failures. The state is taking the first step to fix it.

When Vickie Zacher found out her 11-year-old daughter was getting notes from kids at school suggesting that she kill herself, the Eagle County mom took her to a mental health counselor.  A program through Zacher’s job paid for three, one-hour sessions. But the price for more sessions was $270 per hour, and Zacher couldn’t afford […]

Posted inOpinion, Opinion Columns

Opinion: We need a national prevention strategy for health and behavioral health problems

The lack of preparation in advance of COVID-19 cases in the United States has left hospitals, schools and commnunities struggling to find effective medical, educational and social solutions to combating the virus. Early warnings from China and other Asian countries foreshadowed the serious nature of a virus that knows no physical boundaries. Many public health […]

Posted inColoradans, COVID, Health, News

Coronavirus-related calls are dominating Colorado’s mental health crisis hotline

About 60% of calls to Colorado’s crisis hotline this month had the same theme: the new coronavirus. Callers are isolated and anxious. Some are stressed because the pandemic cost them their jobs or reduced their income. Others are overwhelmed by spending whole days with their families and helping kids with online school. And some are […]

Posted inHealth, News, Politics and Government

As the teen mental health epidemic escalates, emergency rooms get innovative and a for-profit hospital sees an opening

Colorado for decades has struggled with a shortage of mental health treatment options, but care for one age group in particular is most dire: teenagers. The adolescent mental health epidemic is escalating — suicide is now the leading cause of death for Colorado teens — and the state’s emergency departments are inundated with young patients […]

Posted inColoradans, Health, News, Politics and Government

Colorado officials created greeting cards to destigmatize the opioid epidemic. They didn’t order nearly enough.

One greeting card promises never to refer to this “bumpy, curvy, hot mess” as a journey. Another jokes, “We’ll always have coffee.”  They look like a batch of Hallmark cards, but these are different — 34 designs specifically to offer encouragement to people recovering from opioid addiction, or sympathy and understanding to their family members.  […]