NewsColorado Addresses Mental Health Care Gaps with Focus on Child Health

Colorado Addresses Mental Health Care Gaps with Focus on Child Health


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For years, Colorado has grappled with shortcomings in providing adequate mental health care for its residents. Acknowledging the barriers to access, the state established the Behavioral Health Administration, tasked with enhancing the overall mental health care system. Recognizing an urgent need to improve services for children, the administration has been diligently working on a comprehensive child behavioral health implementation plan.

Public testimony from across the state revealed challenges, particularly with insurance, that led to extended wait times for hundreds of children seeking care. Providers, including Blair Skinner, clinical director of the Early Childhood Wellness Place in Broomfield, highlighted difficulties in navigating insurance processes, impacting the timely delivery of essential services.

The Behavioral Health Administration aims to address these issues to enhance access for families. Deputy Commissioner Kelly Causey emphasized the unique needs of children in the mental health care system, stating that they cannot be treated as miniature adults. The administration has collaborated with various state agencies to identify over 100 action items for immediate improvements.

These actions include the development of an early childhood mental health consultation program, bolstering school-based mental healthcare, and a renewed focus on workforce development. Causey stressed partnerships with community colleges to build a sustainable workforce pipeline.

Additionally, the administration plans to examine reimbursement rates for standardized assessments and collaborate with insurance companies to enforce improvements in coverage for children. Causey expressed the importance of insurance companies as partners in ensuring adequate coverage for children when needed.

Providers, while expressing excitement about the plan, raised concerns about the level of input they had in the process. While the Behavioral Health Administration asserts holding several stakeholder meetings, providers question the extent of private provider involvement and the opportunity to provide feedback.

As Colorado takes steps to address mental health care gaps, the focus on early childhood intervention is seen as crucial by providers like Blair Skinner. The state’s commitment to improving mental health care access for children reflects a broader initiative to create a more inclusive and effective mental health care system.

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