Jails, ERs bearing brunt of mental health funding decline

An ambulance arrives at Denver Health's emergency department on Monday, Nov. 11, 2013, where the director say the unit is seeing an unprecedented number of people landing in the emergency room with underlying mental illnesses. (Joe Mahoney/I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS)

They’re victims of car accidents, they’ve been shot, or they threatened their parents. They have overdosed on cocaine, swallowed too many pills or passed out drunk. On an average Friday or Saturday night, they can make up about half of the sick, injured and wounded crowding the rooms and hallways of the emergency department at Denver Health. And there’s one trait these patients have in common, says Dr. Chris Colwell, director of the department. Had they received needed prior treatment, they might not be there at all. Continue Reading →

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State Botches Bid Process for Mental Health Crisis Centers

Susan Beckman

Susan Beckman wants you to know that “a lot of sloppy work”—and not a conspiracy—were behind the state’s botched job of finding someone to run a network of walk-in mental health crisis centers. Beckman heads the administrative branch of the Department of Human Services, the office responsible for the failed solicitation process. The department has been accused of colluding with local actors to elbow out a newcomer, but Beckman says a slew of mistakes were just human error. The department on Nov. 22 issued a new request for proposals to run the crisis centers, three weeks after deciding to rescind an award it had made on Oct. Continue Reading →

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School Psychologists on Rise, but so are Behavioral Problems

Distribution of school psychologists.

Colorado school districts are spending more of their budgets on psychologist positions, but the service providers still struggle with large caseloads and a growing number of  students with severe behavioral and learning problems.
The state currently has the equivalent 791 full-time school psychologists. That number has inched up 4 percent in the last three academic years, according to data the Colorado Department of Education has collected from 78 districts. Franci Crepeau-Hobson, former president of the Colorado Society of School Psychologists, said not all schools employ mental health staff. “There’s actually a national shortage of school psychologists where there are positions open that schools can’t fill and that’s been the case for Colorado for some years, especially for rural and inner-city schools,” Crepeau-Hobson said. Crepeau-Hobson, who is also an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Education and Human Development, said that the problems professionals are seeing are getting worse. Continue Reading →

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