FY2021 Report to the Community
FY2021 Report to the Community
We are excited to share with YOU – our donors, community partners and friends – Mental Health Center of Denver statistics, expressions of appreciation to our supporters, and community impact stories to keep you informed.
Summer 2021 Edition
Summer 2021 Edition
As we head into the summer months with our community opening back up, we are all looking forward to more in-person engagement and time outside. It is our hope that you have found several opportunities to take care of yourself and focus on your well-being. It is important to be good to ourselves in order to be good to others.
The Mental Health Center of Denver’s blog is an excellent resource for articles on a myriad of topics related to well-being. As all of us – individually and together – are in the midst of dealing with post-pandemic anxiety and re-entering society, we have highlighted an article within this report that touches on this very subject in a helpful and reassuring way. Please feel free to share it with others you know.
It has been proven that sharing and giving to others increases our own well-being. You can help members of our community understand how to communicate and respond effectively to someone experiencing a mental health crisis by making a donation to support our Mental Health First Aid program. Together, we can provide Mental Health First Aid classes to all who are interested and make an important impact on improving our community’s overall mental health and well-being. Click here to learn more about Mental Health First Aid and consider making a gift today.
Your thoughtfulness encourages us to think boldly in delivering innovative and compassionate care. In this Report to the Community, you will find our Impact Partners for 2020. These individuals and organizations helped Mental Health Center of Denver meet the needs of our community and provide care and education to more than 30,000 people last year. We are grateful for your continued partnership in our meaningful work.
Thank you for sharing in our mission to enrich lives and minds by focusing on strengths and well-being.
Director of Philanthropy
Post-Pandemic Anxiety: How to Handle Re-entering Society
As more establishments open up to in-person operations, people might experience anxiety, or uneasiness, around the idea of being with others again in a post-pandemic world. For more than a year, the concept of being around people equaled danger – so how do we deal with the idea of in-person social interaction?
Anxiety – what is it?
Anxiety is a general feeling of dis-ease or worrying about the future. As people begin to enter the “new normal” of a post-pandemic life, some might feel like they are entering a foreign space. When the pandemic began, we went from our familiar lives to a foreign situation of isolation. It has been more than a year since the pandemic began, so now, social interaction might feel like the less-familiar, foreign environment, increasing our anxiety.
But, we have muscle memory.
“Muscle memory has to do with the duration of time in which we’ve experienced something,” said Jen Jackson, assistant program manager, licensed clinical social worker and licensed addiction counselor at the Mental Health Center of Denver.
And the good thing is, the duration of our time of ‘togetherness’ before the pandemic is longer than the duration of the pandemic itself. So, although entering a post-pandemic world might feel foreign at first, we can ease ourselves into it by taking small, baby steps.
How do I cope with being around other people?
“Repetition and easing back into things may solve some discomfort,” Jen said. “What wouldn’t help is avoidance.”
For example, if your employer is returning to in-person operations, take it slow and start by simply visiting the office.
“Just go and see how it feels. Try it on,” Jen said. “Dipping a toe in and realizing the water isn’t that cold can help trigger that muscle memory. It helps you remember you’ve been there before and it’s safe.”
How do I handle the unknown?
“A lot of anxiety comes from the unknown, which has been the hallmark of this pandemic,” said Cari Ladd, licensed clinical social worker at the Mental Health Center of Denver. “We can find comfort and decrease anxiety by going back to what we do know.”
Think about what you have done throughout the pandemic to keep yourself safe and focus on what is in your control. For example, you can wear a mask, wash your hands, meet people outdoors and get vaccinated. Utilize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and COVID-19 updates from the state of Colorado to stay informed.
In addition, add some structure and predictability into your day.
“Scheduling lunch, a walk or an event you can look forward to creates predictability, which can decrease anxiety,” Cari said.
We’re in this together.
Anxiety skyrockets when you are the only one feeling that way. Discussing our anxiety around a post-pandemic world openly with friends, family and coworkers can help.
“No one is alone in this anxiety of the unknown. It’s a very normal thing to feel,” Jen said. “We might not know what it’s going to look like moving forward. But we can have faith that we’re in this together.”
Are you a parent or caregiver? Don’t miss our latest blog post on kids and post-pandemic anxiety.
Public Safety Reimagined: STAR Program Producing Paradigm-Shift Results
Denver Police Officer Steve Hammack and Associate Director of Clinical Services Chris Richardson
The intent of STAR -- Support Team Assisted Response -- is to send the right response to people in crisis. The innovative program serves as an alternative option for low-risk and low-acuity 911 calls, many of which are related to substance use and mental health concerns. The STAR mobile unit consists of a paramedic from Denver Health and mental health clinician from the Mental Health Center of Denver who respond to calls that do not require a police presence.
When the STAR mobile unit arrives, the individual in crisis can be assured that the interaction is grounded in a harm reduction, trauma-informed philosophy. The team, dressed in street clothes, provides direct clinical de-escalation, community service connections as well as on-demand resources such as water, food, clothing and basic living supports. While not all calls involve a diagnosable mental health condition, many individuals identify as experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar and anxiety.
STAR also helps the emergency response system handle the overwhelming number of 911 calls that don’t require a police response. When STAR serves someone in crisis, it frees up police to handle a robbery or domestic violence incident.
Launched on June 1, 2020, STAR is a partnership between the Mental Health Center of Denver, Denver Health, Denver Police Department, Denver Department of Public Health and Environment as well as community stakeholders like Servicios de la Raza, Harm Reduction Action Center, Denver Justice Project, DASHR, and Caring4Denver.
The program is producing paradigm shift results. Over the past 11 months, STAR has successfully responded to 1,323 calls. Of those, there have been no arrests, no injuries and no need for police back up.
Recently, STAR was requested by Denver Police to a convenience store where a woman was experiencing mental health symptoms and actively refusing to leave the establishment. The store asked that she be classified as a trespasser, but the Denver Police recognized that this was a mental health situation and not criminal in nature. STAR was requested on scene and was quickly able to build rapport with the woman. After a short time, she agreed to leave and asked to be transported to a local women's day shelter that frequently partners with STAR. During the transport, the woman asked for assistance activating her benefit card. The STAR team provided brief case management and activated the card so she could purchase food and other basic need items, which turned out to be the root cause of her issues with the convenience store interaction. The woman was connected to the day shelter where she could rest, shower and do her laundry. Mental health services were set up and housing support established prior to her leaving the shelter.
We are grateful for our donors whose generous support help make our work possible. It is with pride that we share our 2020 honor roll of Impact Partners who make a measurable difference in our well-being work and the lives of the people we serve.
Thank you for supporting the Mental Health Center of Denver.
An Alternative to Jail & the Emergency Room, Behavioral Health Solutions Center Opened May 17
The Mental Health Center of Denver’s newest, groundbreaking program, the Behavioral Health Solutions Center (BHSC), opened its doors on May 17, 2021. Operated by the Mental Health Center of Denver in partnership with the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment, the BHSC houses Denver’s first multifunctional facility offering a three-tiered approach to help individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
Previously, first responders often had to rely on hospital emergency rooms or jails when handling behavioral health calls. Because the aptly named Solutions Center houses a full range of critical services under one roof, it takes the pressure off first responders to manage substance use or mental health crises in the field.
The 28,741-square-foot BHSC, specifically designed to provide an emotionally and psychologically safe space, is located in Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood and offers three distinct services:
- Drop-Off & Crisis Triage Center - First responders can bring people experiencing a behavioral health crisis here for immediate care. Only first responders (law enforcement and fire department/EMT units) or designated mental health professionals can refer someone to the Solutions Center. Within 24 hours, each person we serve receives an individualized treatment plan or is transported to another appropriate location based on their needs.
- 16-bed Crisis Stabilization Clinic – The clinic will accommodate voluntary stays for up to five days for people receiving medication, evaluation, and therapeutic services.
- 30-bed Transitional Shelter - Transitional housing for up to 30 days for people recovering from a crisis. During this time, staff work to connect individuals to community resources to assist with their successful reintegration into the community, including transportation, housing, and ongoing care.
“Denver continues to innovate with behavioral health solutions designed to get people the right care at the right time, care that has become even more urgent since the pandemic,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “One in six people experiences a mental health issue each year in Colorado, and the Solutions Center not only provides them with critical longer-term options for recovery through collaborative, unified services, but also serves to divert those in crisis away from unnecessary time in jail or on a psychiatric hold.”
The Solutions Center is open 24/7 and staffed by 59 clinicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, peer support specialists, residential counselors, and support staff. The building includes reception and common areas, laundry rooms, 46 bedrooms, multiple nurse stations, restrooms and showers, private meeting rooms, medical and mental health exam spaces, a kitchen and dining area, a fitness room, administrative support areas and a 21,500-square-foot, fenced and locked courtyard complete with a basketball court.
“Stabilization after a behavioral health crisis can take time and coordination of care,” said Marissa VanDover, who oversees the Solutions Center as Mental Health Center of Denver’s Associate Director of Crisis Services. “Instead of referrals across the metro area, the Solutions Center makes referrals just down the hall to help keep people on the path to recovery beyond their time here, through assistance in transitioning back to the community. Our hope is for this to become a national model.”
Demographics of People We Serve | July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020
In fiscal year 2020, the Mental Health Center of Denver provided treatment and prevention services to 20,881 unique individuals. In addition, we provided 45,922 consultation and outreach services, and community education/trainings to 12,121 community members.
Race* & Ethnicity**
*Does not include “declined to answer” or “unknown” race.
**People we serve who identify as Hispanic and/or Latino/a/x may belong to any race.
Financials | July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020
Financials for Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2020
|Total Expenses (does not include Excess Reserves)||$109,214,381|
|End of Year Net Assets||$72,374,313|
Late Fall 2020/Early Winter 2021 Edition
Late Fall 2020/Early Winter 2021 Edition
Innovation Technology Lab Marks First Year
Digital Front Door Budget
*Commitment already invested.
**Grants funded by Colorado Health Innovation Community, Office of eHealth Innovation & Rose Community Foundation
Last year, the Mental Health Center of Denver became the nation’s first – and only – behavioral health center to launch its own innovation lab. Innovation labs are more commonly associated with edgy companies that focus on bringing new ideas, products and services to market. Why did MHCD decide to “boldly go where no mental health center has gone” and launch an innovation lab?
According to Alires Almon, Director of Innovation, “MHCD’s Innovation Technology Lab may be unique in the mental health space, but we are tackling universal issues that impact the entire industry. I’m proud of our organization for recognizing that fast tracking technology and innovations can accelerate more equitable access to care.”
Almon, who was brought on board to run the Lab, believes the first year has been extremely fruitful. Through its Innovation Engine process, the Lab reviewed 30+ prospective innovations and projects and has six in production. Almon is especially pleased that two are ‘staff-engaged projects,’ meaning staff brought these ideas to the Lab. “Innovation is a team sport,” Almon noted.
Early in the new year, the Innovation Technology Lab will launch You@Yourbest, a new 24/7, online platform created to help people who are not in service but interested in improving well-being to set goals, explore personalized and curated resources and engage with MHCD.
“We believe You@Yourbest can significantly broaden our reach and help move the starting line forward for people who might need services,” said Almon. This will further expand the organization's Digital Front Door and introduce MHCD to more people in the community.
Another important goal of MHCD’s Digital Front Door is to expand access to behavioral health services. Approximately one in five people in the Denver area has a mental health disorder and of those only 40% receive the help they need. According to a report recently issued by the Colorado Office of eHealth Innovation, funded by the Colorado Health Institute, 84% of mental health services have been provided via telehealth during the pandemic, so the need to expand access via technology has never been greater.
One of the critical barriers to expanding access to services is the fact that the behavioral health workforce has been shrinking over time. For every psychiatrist that enters the field, two more are retiring. To begin to close the access gap, we need to leverage technology to reach five times the number of people through our Digital Front Door.
Are you, or someone you know, interested in finding out more and providing funding to help us to build the Digital Front Door?
Community Partnership Highlight
When restrictions due to COVID-19 hit our community last spring, the effects of safer-at-home and stay-at-home orders hit the hospitality industry hard. Hotels stood largely vacant, restaurants shifted from dine-in to take-out and caterers were faced with cancelled events. While the majority of Epicurean Catering’s staff had to be furloughed, the remaining management and culinary staff got busy creating new pick-up and take-out options. Only weeks into what has now become months of the pandemic, Epicurean Catering owner Larry DiPasquale reached out to the Mental Health Center of Denver to see what they could do to help the people we serve. He and his wife, Jill, had been introduced to the work of MHCD in the fall of 2019 as guests at our Gifts of Hope event.
To assist residents at MHCD’s supportive housing complex, Sanderson Apartments, Epicurean donated and delivered a full meal, sized to provide leftovers for an additional meal, to each of the 55 residents once a week for a month. The weekly deliveries by Epicurean staff were eagerly anticipated by residents. As restrictions continued over the months, the Epicurean team also made several deliveries of freshly made quart-size containers of tasty soups for each of the residents. This provided tenants with something extra in their refrigerator or freezer to enjoy and helped their meal budgets go farther, as some of the residents have experienced job furloughs and layoffs.
Founded in 1984, Epicurean Hospitality Group remains committed to its core values of excellence, innovation, integrity, teamwork, smart growth and community. We thank Epicurean and its owners and staff for demonstrating their commitment to the well-being of others during these challenging times.
Gifts of Hope
More than 230 people joined us on October 7th for our first-ever virtual Gifts of Hope – Limitless – celebrating all the ways Mental Health Center of Denver continues to push past boundaries to increase access to services. Originally scheduled as an in-person lunch event, COVID-19 precautions, including the need for participants to be socially distanced, required that we pivot and hold the event via Zoom.
Presentations during the first half of the hour-long event were prerecorded while the breakout sessions in the second half of the event took place in real time. Attendees learned about telehealth services, our pharmacy program, 2Succeed in Education & Employment and our Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) program. Event sponsors and donors contributed $82,000 toward the work of the organization.
Colorado Gives Day
December 8, 2020 marked the 10th year for Colorado Gives Day in Colorado. A total of 2,828 nonprofits in the state benefited from an outpouring of generosity totaling $50 million.
We are especially grateful to the 143 donors who contributed over $39,000 to the work of our organization.
Along with soon welcoming a new year, our community will also welcome the opening of the Behavioral Health Solutions Center, Denver’s first Crisis Stabilization Unit, Crisis Triage Center and Transitional Housing Unit all in one facility.
Located in the Sun Valley neighborhood near 10th & Federal Boulevard, the Solutions Center is a collaboration between the City and County of Denver and Mental Health Center of Denver. It will provide first responders with an alternative to taking individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis to hospital emergency rooms or jails. Look for more information around the opening in our next Report to the Community.
Summer 2020 Edition
Clinical Case Manager Katie Healy Cox delivers medication to people we serve.
Summer 2020 Edition
Clinical Case Manager Katie Healy Cox delivers medication to people we serve.
Mental Health Clinicians Partner with Denver Police
The Today Show covered the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) program, an initiative in which mental health professionals from our organization partner with paramedics to respond to 911 calls that are low-risk.
Ramping Up Mobile Outreach & Services
The pharmacy team wears masks and practices physical distancing outside of the Recovery Center.
Meeting people where they are has taken on a new meaning in the time of COVID-19. As many people served by the Mental Health Center of Denver and the community went into quarantine for COVID-19, the Mental Health Center of Denver switched most of its services to virtual delivery. This presented new challenges to provide services that must be in-person, such as long-acting injectable prescriptions.
The organization’s Nursing, Pharmacy and Strategic Community Partnerships teams came together to brainstorm solutions to deliver these injections in the safest way possible. Although the Mental Health Center of Denver has plans underway for a new mobile program, that vehicle was not yet ready for use.
An opportunity emerged to partner with the City and County of Denver’s Wellness Winnie, an RV launched in February 2020 that provides behavioral health and support services throughout Denver. The city and Mental Health Center of Denver mobilized quickly so that nurses could go out on the Wellness Winnie to deliver the injectable prescriptions safely in the neighborhoods of people served. Although the city soon had to shift the use of the Wellness Winnie for COVID-19 testing, this joint effort deepened relationships with the city and created important learning to inform future mobile services. In the meantime, the Nursing team continues to find creative ways to provide injection prescriptions safely; as of the end of June they delivered approximately 1,300 injections at the Recovery Center and nearly 200 injections in the community.
As the Mental Health Center of Denver continues to navigate changes and uncertainty, the organization is ramping up capacity to increase community access through mobile services in the ways that the community wants them. The new mobile program set to launch this Fall will be a flexible space to engage with the community and offer a variety of well-being and mental health services.
Our Response to COVID-19
The Mental Health Center of Denver began providing remote services March 16, 2020, due to COVID-19. Since then, we have altered our operations to ensure the people we serve continue to get what they need. We plan to continue providing remote services through September 20, 2020.
Highlights from Our Response to COVID-19
- The pharmacy has performed more than 200 curbside and walk-up COVID-19 tests at the Recovery Center and made home deliveries with more than 11,200 prescriptions since March 16, with the assistance of case managers. COVID-19 testing is available by appointment at the Recovery Center until August 27. Call 1-800-451-7449 to reserve a time or click here.
- The Adult Resource Center worked with case managers to deliver more than 4,600 emergency food boxes, in addition to other food box services at Dahlia Campus.
- We launched Well-Being LIVE, a virtual series of free events led by our experts on a wide range of topics related to well-being, from meditation and nutrition to self-care and parenting tools.
- Resources, such as self-care tips, a guided meditation from President & CEO Dr. Carl Clark and suggestions for talking to your children about COVID-19 are available on our COVID-19 webpage.
Employee Hardship Fund
An exciting new initiative to be born out of COVID-19 is the Mental Health Center of Denver Employee Hardship Fund.
Established as a separate tax-exempt nonprofit organization, its purpose is to serve as an employer-sponsored relief fund for current and future employees experiencing financial hardships. Eligible employees are part-time and full-time regular status employees who have been with the organization for at least one year. The maximum grant award is $1,000 and an individual may not receive more than three grants during their tenure with the organization.
The recently formed board of the Employee Hardship Fund is working to finalize the grant application process and those details will be announced shortly. Mental Health Center of Denver will provide administrative and operating support to the Fund.
Employees will have an opportunity to contribute to the Employee Hardship Fund as part of the Give.Go.Grow employee giving campaign. The Mental Health Center of Denver will match 100% of employee contributions. Non-employee donations may also be made to the Employee Hardship Fund. If you are interested in making a donation, please contact the Director of Philanthropy at 303.504.6758.
Staying Connected Through Telehealth Services
Since the beginning of COVID-19, the Mental Health Center of Denver has been committed to ensuring that most services that previously took place in-person could and would be offered through telehealth options.
Within days of safer-at-home and stay-at-home orders, clinicians were equipped to meet the increasing mental and physical health needs of our community. At the same time, we were also learning that many people who benefit from our services did not have the necessary technology devices to effectively access services through our digital offerings.
Utilizing various communication and donation channels, solicitations were made for both new and used equipment, as well as funds to support these items. To date, more than 140 computers and 110 smartphones and tablets have been distributed to people we serve so their well-being plan could continue uninterrupted.
Getting technology devices into the hands of the people we serve who would not otherwise have access to the vital services we provide continues to be a high priority. Through a strong partnership with the nonprofit PCs for People, we can purchase a computer for a person we serve for around $100. There is also a high need to provide financial assistance to cover the $45 per month cost of basic internet access. If you would like to help support keeping people we serve connected to well-being services, please consider a gift to our Well-Being Assistance Fund.
Thank You to Our Donors!
Denver Post Top Workplace Award
The Mental Health Center of Denver has been named a Top Workplace by the Denver Post eight years in a row! We believe that people are resilient - they can and do recover from mental illness. At the Mental Health Center of Denver, we hire people dedicated to working toward that goal.
Emerson St. Keeps Young People Engaged & Enriched
During recent months, weekly well-being groups at Emerson St. for Teens & Young Adults have met virtually. The staff at Emerson St. for Teens & Young Adults has creatively adapted to the current physical distancing demands by bringing tactile enrichment groups to them. Because groups that do arts, crafts and cooking, for example, require specific items for all participants to use, the Emerson St. staff has put together boxes of these items and delivered them to the young people’s homes prior to these groups. This allows them to participate at home while engaging with others in the group through video meetings.
Some virtual groups can be done without tangible items, such as exercise, discussion or mindfulness groups. All of these weekly groups are vital to keeping the young people we serve involved. One of the young people we serve said, “I wish I could see people in person, but this is a good alternative. I don't have to leave these groups an hour early to go to work, so I can stay for the whole time."
Once per month, groups will now be meeting in person, physically distanced, on the front lawn of Emerson St. for arts and crafts, games or discussion groups. This is important for the young people we serve who find it difficult to engage with one another virtually, who may be experiencing homelessness, or who do not have the technology required to participate in virtual groups.
Enrichment, engagement and enjoyment are the goals for these prevention-level groups that introduce some to Emerson St. and enhance the clinical experience of others. These groups have been a great way for some young people to learn more about the Mental Health Center of Denver and the clinical services they can receive at Emerson St. Young people tend to feel more comfortable receiving therapeutic services in an environment that is familiar and fun. For the age group served by Emerson St. – 15-26 years of age – this wholistic model of treatment has been very successful. In fact, other community organizations such as Urban Peak and Mile High Youth Corps have partnered with Emerson St. so that the young people they serve may also benefit from its services and utilize the expertise of Emerson St.’s staff.
By making a gift to Emerson St. for Teens & Young Adults, you are helping to ensure that these groups are sustained through this time of physical distancing and that the young people we serve remain involved and engaged. Financial contributions to Emerson St. also ensure that the staff can be flexible and creative with the materials they need to purchase to adapt to ever-changing circumstances. Make a gift to Emerson St. for Teens & Young Adults.
Save the Date: Gifts of Hope 2020
Gifts of Hope is Limitless in 2020! Please plan to join us between noon and 1:00 p.m. on October 7 for our virtual fundraising event. Details coming soon.