On October 21 – 24, clinicians, educators, researchers and policymakers will gather at the University of Denver for the first ever Colorado Behavioral Health & Wellness Summit. The event is free and open to the public. Since this is a new event, we wanted to learn more about the Summit from event co-chairs Nancy Lorenzon, PhD, College of Natural Science and Mathematics, University of Denver and Steven Haden, CPRP, MBA, Envision: You.
Why did this Summit come about?
The University of Denver, the Mental Health Center of Denver and Envision:You joined forces to create Colorado Behavioral Health & Wellness Summit. We share a collective commitment to encourage neighbors, friends, family and colleagues from around Colorado to learn more about behavioral health issues and treatment. We believe this is helpful in changing language and beliefs about mental health issues, in developing mental health care policies that are fair and just, and in promoting a system in which better, more compassionate outcomes are the norm.
According to the most recent Colorado Health Access Survey by the Colorado Health Institute, approximately 20 percent of Colorado’s population has a diagnosable behavioral health condition. Sadly, nearly 1 in 7 Coloradans — about 660,000 people — said they did not get needed mental health services in the prior 12 months, a spike of 278,000 people from the same point two years ago.
We know we have a long way to go in terms of making mental health and substance use treatment available and accessible to everyone in Colorado especially for members of the LGBTQ+ community and marginalized communities who often face inequalities and barriers to treatment . The Summit will further the work of dedicated professionals to make better access to care for everyone a reality.
What do we hope to achieve with the Summit?
The Summit is a great opportunity for us to talk about effective intervention strategies including harm reduction, to look at opportunities to improve the delivery of behavioral health services in Colorado and demystify rehabilitation and treatment. Additionally, we hope the Summit provides an opportunity for providers, people with lived experience, policymakers and members of the community to talk to one another about the need for change. Too many people in our state are not receiving care and the Summit can underscore the importance of working together to find solutions.
Additionally, we know that people with untreated behavioral health issues overwhelmingly cite stigma as a reason for not getting help. By creating an opportunity in the community for dialogue, we hope we can help break down barriers to accessing care.
Why would someone want to attend?
The four-day Summit will provide participants with information and practical tools they can use in their professional practice, organizations, and communities as well as their daily lives.
What is the hope for the future?
We hope this community collaboration will foster an increased focus on tackling these difficult issues. Ultimately, we need to halt the rise in behavioral health issues in our state and develop meaningful strategies that lead people to a life of well-being and opportunity.
For more information and to RSVP for the Summit, visit the Summit website.