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Task force releases recommendations to protect the rights of Coloradans experiencing mental health crises

posted Jan 3, 2017, 4:03 PM by Elizabeth Owens - CDHS   [ updated Jan 3, 2017, 4:04 PM ]

DENVER (January 3, 2017) A task force created to evaluate the legality of ‘mental health holds’ provided recommendations today to ensure people who are experiencing a mental health crisis receive proper treatment and constitutional protections.

The task force was created at the direction of Gov. John Hickenlooper last year after he vetoed SB 16-169, citing concerns about the due process rights of individuals experiencing mental health crisis.

Primary among the recommendations is that the General Assembly pursue legislation prohibiting the use of jails to hold persons with mental health issues who have not been accused of crimes.

“Those experiencing mental health crises should get the treatment they need in the setting that is most appropriate for their care,” Hickenlooper said. “We are grateful to the Colorado Department of Human Services, each of the task force members, and the sponsors of SB 16-169, who have worked diligently on this report. We hope and expect that this effort will result in substantive changes to better the lives of Coloradans.”

The group also developed recommendations to bolster system capacity, streamline regulations and maximize the state’s existing behavioral health resources; understand the need for and overcome barriers to inpatient care for people in mental health crisis; and develop data tracking systems to better understand the scope of the mental health hold problem in Colorado.

CDHS Executive Director Reggie Bicha convened the 30-member task force. The group represents a diverse group of stakeholders from across Colorado, including health care providers, advocates for proper mental health treatment and regulatory agencies.

The complete Mental Health Hold Task Force report, which includes eight recommendations, is available here.