A Helping Hand for Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

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Colorado is battling a serious mental illness and substance abuse problem – could pairing police with mental health professionals during 911 responses help?

Yes, according to several law enforcement agencies in Colorado already using these strategies. In fact, the Colorado Department of Human Services is planning to distribute $16 million over the next three years to support new approaches that encourage treatment for mental illness and drug addiction rather than jail time, according to the Denver Post.

Although police officers in Denver receive 40 hours of crisis-intervention training, mental health clinicians seem to have a calming effect, say witnesses. What’s more, they are up-to-speed on new research and techniques that they can pass on to the police.

“I think sometimes when someone is in crisis there can be a jarring moment attached with an officer that’s in uniform, and then you have us, the ‘touchy-feely’ social workers that show up in a polo and are getting down on their knees saying, what is it we can help you with right now?” Chris Richardson, the program manager of the Crisis Intervention Response Unit, told KDVR.com.

Cities like Los Angeles and Seattle have been at the forefront of this innovate way of policing. The result: fewer arrests and fewer violent interactions with law enforcement.

Mental Health in Colorado
In Colorado, there’s no denying that steps need to be taken to help people battling mental illness and substance use disorders get proper treatment.  Take a look at some of these shocking behavioral health stats, according to the Denver Post. 

  • Colorado has the sixth highest suicide rate in the nation.
  • Colorado is the only state in the nation with populations that simultaneously abused four substances: alcohol, opioids, cocaine and cannabis.
  • Colorado consistently ranks in the bottom half of per-capita funding levels among various state surveys for behavioral health spending.
  • As of December 2016, 39 percent of Colorado’s inmate population needed mental health services and 74 percent needed services for substance use disorders.

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment in Colorado
Mental illness and substance use disorder can be a dangerous duo, increasing your chances of relapse and putting you at a higher risk for suicide. Upon admission to NorthStar Transitions, clients are evaluated for co-occurring disorders that may contribute to dependency. Our staff consists of highly trained addiction professionals, including a board-certified addiction psychiatrist. Call 303-625-6335 today to begin your Colorado recovery adventure or to speak with our team about insurance coverage and self-payment plans.