In the News

In the News

Watch & Read about Mental Health Center of Denver in the news.

How to Raise a More Resilient Kid

5280 | December 2021

Between January and April 2021, Children’s Hospital Colorado’s pediatric emergency department saw a 72 percent increase in behavioral health visits compared to the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, twice as many patients at Children’s Pediatric Mental Health Institute reported increased anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation and social disconnectedness. Eighty-seven Colorado kids ages 10 to 18 died by suicide in 2020.

Those are scary numbers—and they led Children’s CEO Jena Hausmann to declare a “pediatric mental health state of emergency” in May 2021 and Children’s chief medical officer, Dr. David Brumbaugh, to say “our kids have run out of resilience.” While health officials contend the pandemic and related stressors have been a big factor, they also believe this crisis has been brewing for some time. More resources for treating the symptoms (adding psychiatric beds, increasing inpatient hospital staff) would help, but even those measures are not a cure.

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The Complete Guide to Preventive Health Care

5280 | December 2021

When the most devastating health care crisis in generations hit, Coloradans responded by steering clear of the doctor. That might sound ironic, but shortly after COVID-19 first appeared in the Centennial State, Governor Jared Polis signed executive orders that, from March 23 to April 26, 2020, prohibited providers from performing many routine medical services. Some doctors who would have been allowed to treat patients during that time voluntarily closed to preserve personal protective equipment for essential workers. And even after all medical offices were allowed to reopen, many patients demurred on seeking treatment out of fear of contracting COVID-19 while, say, getting their teeth cleaned. The aggregate result of these actions was that visits to health care providers along the Front Range in 2020 plummeted 25 percent compared to 2019 totals, according to a September 2021 report from the Colorado Health Institute, a Denver-based nonprofit.

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Ways to help relieve stress brought on by the holidays

9News | December 8, 2021

Cari Ladd with the Mental Health Center of Denver shares tips on what people can do to decrease stress around the holiday season.

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'Housing first' approach to solving homelessness raised during Great Falls hearing

Yahoo! News | December 8, 2021

City Commissioners held a public hearing to hear from the community on how to allocate over $1 million in HOME-ARP funds to provide housing, services and shelter to people experiencing homelessness through the American Rescue Plan during their meeting Tuesday night.

Sheila Rice, former director of NeighborWorks Great Falls, spoke at length to the commission about the benefits of Permanent Supportive Housing seen in other communities struggling to meet the needs of people in need of shelter.

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Pandemic pushes Colorado's pediatric mental health care system to the brink

9News | December 3, 2021

Every day, anywhere from 15 to 50 children end up in the emergency department at Children’s Hospital Colorado in some sort of a mental health crisis, a dramatic rise since the beginning of the pandemic, administrators say.

By mid-October, the hospital system said more than 5,000 kids made it to the emergency department for mental healthcare, according to Jason Williams, the director of operations for the hospital’s Pediatric Mental Health Institute.

“Our system was at capacity prior to the pandemic and the pandemic has just made things really, really worse,” Williams said.

“Kids who need the care can’t find the beds either at Children’s Hospital or elsewhere.”

Mental health experts say the isolation caused by the pandemic is especially harmful for kids, who are in the process of developing social skills.

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STAR, the program that diverts some calls away from police, continues to grow

Denverite | December 2, 2021

The city’s Support Team Assisted Response program, better known as STAR, continues to expand and maintain no arrests.

The program, which sends mental health professionals rather than police to certain emergency calls, now counts six clinicians (it will be up to eight by January), two full-time medics and two vans (more are on the way) that offer service every weekday, either from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., as well as some service on weekends. As of Nov. 27, the program has responded to 2,018 calls that would have otherwise gone to police or other city agencies.

It’s a big jump from the pilot program’s first iteration, which launched in June 2020 with a lone clinician and one paramedic traveling around the city in a white van. The requests for STAR still far outweigh the program’s reach, however.

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Warren Village Announces Innovative Partnership with The Denver Housing Authority to Expand Services and Build a Third Facility

YourHub | November 29, 2021

Warren Village, a Denver-based organization focused on providing housing and helping low-income, single-parent families make the journey from poverty to self-sufficiency, announces its plans to expand program services to a third facility on newly acquired land awarded through a highly competitive process managed by The Denver Housing Authority (DHA) and the City and County of Denver (CCD), funded by the DHA Delivers for Denver (D3) Bond Program.

Once constructed, the new Warren Village facilities at 1394 W. Alameda Ave. and 1373 W. Nevada Pl. in Denver would house and provide Two-Generation (2Gen) supportive services for single-parent families experiencing chronic housing instability or homelessness. The organization will leverage its 47-year history of providing safe and affordable housing, parent services and advocacy, early education/childcare and mental health services for parents and children.

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Denver’s program to house people was so successful, the federal government is offering millions more to expand it

9News | November 28, 2021

Five years ago, Denver made a list of people most often involved with jail, detox centers and emergency rooms — and then offered them housing.

The program was so successful at keeping people in stable housing and out of jail, that the U.S. Treasury Department has offered the city more than $6 million in new federal aid, if the program can demonstrate a comparable drop in Medicare and Medicaid billings over the next seven years.

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Denver to Invest Heavily in Housing and Homelessness Projects in 2022

Westword | November 22, 2021

Fresh off finishing a five-year strategic plan, the Denver Department of Housing Stability has released the framework for how it will address homelessness and housing instability and affordability in the coming year. A big part of that plan: money.

"These are some big things to get done in the next twelve months of 2022, but we continue to do this work, and it’s about building and adding," says Britta Fisher, the city's chief housing officer and head of the Department of Housing Stability, created by Mayor Michael Hancock in October 2019 to centralize the city's focus on housing and homelessness issues.

The 2022 plan, still in draft form, sets numerous goals for HOST, including creating and preserving more than 1,400 affordable rental and for-sale homes; serving more than 6,000 households with stability assistance, such as rent and utility assistance and eviction legal defense; and housing at least 2,300 households.

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More Affordable Housing In Denver Is Coming For Single-Parent Families

CBS4 | November 18, 2021

Residential services for single parents seeking safe and affordable housing are expanding in Denver. Over the last 45 years, Warren Village has helped more than 8,200 children and parents. Their partnership with Denver Housing Authority will help support hundreds more through a new facility.

“Just looking at the folks who are extremely cost-burdened, which means they’re paying more than 50% of their income towards rent, we anticipate that number of 150,000 doubling by the end of next year.” said Ethan Hemming, CEO of Warren Village.

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Denver STAR – The Alternative To 911 – Expands Equitable Mental Crisis Care

303Magazine | November 5, 2021

Denver’s 911 line now has a fourth option. On August 30, Denver City Council moved to expand funding for the city’s Support Team Assisted Response, or STAR, Program. STAR piloted in Denver for six months between June 1 to November 30, 2020. The program is designed to improve equity in public safety by facilitating a nonviolent and trauma-informed response to behavioral health crises.

For decades, people suffering from mental health crises slipped through the cracks. This made folks vulnerable to domestic abuse, police violence and criminal charges for substance abuse. STAR provides safe crisis healthcare for Denver residents in need.

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Denver homeless program called a ‘remarkable success’

NewsBreak | November 4, 2021

A years-long social impact program aimed at reducing Denver homelessness by placing chronically homeless individuals into housing surrounded by intensive services was deemed a “remarkable success” by the Urban Institute, in a review this summer.

An analysis by the nonprofit research organization found the impacts of the Social Impact Bond program “disrupt the false narratives that homelessness is an unsolvable problem and that people who experience chronic homelessness choose to live on the street.”

Denver’s Social Impact Bond Program launched in 2016 and was designed to cut the frequency with which unhoused people were jailed and utilized emergency health services.

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Colorado Launches Free Mental Health Care for Kids

5280 | October 28, 2021

When the nation went into lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, college students began returning to Colorado. That’s when state Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet started receiving desperate emails from parents. It turns out that since their child’s psychologist was out-of-state, they couldn’t legally engage in teletherapy while in Colorado.

“I was also hearing directly from parents about their fears of their children’s depression and their isolation,” Jenet says. “And primarily, what does it look like to stop the suicidality that they were seeing in their kids?”

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City Council committee approves contract for citywide STAR expansion

The Denver Gazette | October 28, 2021

Denver City Council’s Safety, Housing, Education & Homelessness Committee on Wednesday approved on consent a nearly $1.4 million contract with Mental Health Center of Denver to expand citywide its civilian-led responder program for low-level, nonviolent situations.

The contract negotiated by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment is worth $1,391,579 and runs through 2022.

The Support Team Assisted Response program pairs mental health clinicians with paramedics to respond to people having mental health, poverty, homelessness and substance use-related crises as an alternative to police.

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What Is Trauma-Informed Design?

Next City | October 20, 2021

For many of us, the global lockdowns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have made our homes places of respite, healing, and renewal. But for many others, including the unhoused, “home” is not always healing and can in fact be just the opposite.

Shari Stratton knows that all too well. For her, “home” meant a constant threat of domestic violence. When she eventually left, she had nowhere to turn until she found Arroyo Village, a supportive housing complex designed for those with traumatic histories. In a written profile she said she had stayed with friends and had applied for a shelter but instead was provided an apartment in Arroyo Village. She had worried that apartment living would be loud, a trigger for her PTSD, but that hasn’t been a problem for her.

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Denver breaks ground on affordable housing project for people experiencing homelessness

NewsBreak | October 20, 2021

Denver’s Barnum neighborhood celebrated the groundbreaking of 49 new supportive housing units. Rhonda’s Place will offer one-bedroom apartments and services for individuals transitioning from homelessness.

On Tuesday, Mayor Michael Hancock and Councilwoman Jamie Torres praised the $17.3 million project developed by the nonprofit REDI Corporation.

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Denver Celebrates Groundbreaking of 49 Supportive Housing Units

DenverGov | October 19, 2021

$2.3 million investment from Denver’s voter-approved Homelessness Resolution Fund makes southwest Denver development viable
Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Councilwoman Jamie Torres and other officials today celebrated the groundbreaking for 49 new supportive housing units in the Barnum neighborhood. Developed by the nonprofit REDI Corporation, Rhonda’s Place will offer one-bedroom apartments with supportive wraparound services for individuals transitioning from homelessness, including individuals with disabilities and mental health needs.

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Study could help rural areas get more mental health resources

9News | October 16, 2021

Researchers at CU Anschutz are hoping a recent study will help parts of rural Colorado get more funding for mental health resources.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open, found that those living in rural or isolated areas often have easier access to handguns and identified which of those may see an increased suicide risk among teens.

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Oct. 13, 2021: What ‘The Mike File’ reveals about mental health treatment over time

Colorado Public Radio | October 13, 2021

Stephen Trimble's book, "The Mike File," explores the realities of mental illness and inadequate care through the real-life story of two brothers. Then, a new exhibit highlights the history of Indigenous slavery in Southern Colorado. And using virtual fences to herd cattle and save grassland.

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Report: State Human Services-funded co-responder programs improve access to care, reduce arrests

The Denver Gazette | October 13, 2021

Programs funded by the state Department of Human Services that deploy law enforcement officers in tandem with behavioral health clinicians have been successful in diverting those facing a behavioral health crisis away from incarceration and toward treatment and services, a report from the state agency has found.

The report, commissioned by the Office of Behavioral Health within DHS and conducted by the Colorado Health Institute, shows so-called “co-responder” programs funded by OBH were successful in each of the four categories measured.

OBH funds 28 co-responder programs that cover more than 80 communities within 24 counties across the state. More than 70 law enforcement agencies participate statewide.

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On Federal Boulevard, 49 housing units for people experiencing homelessness will get city money

Denverite | September 27, 2021

The city will provide a loan and chip in money to pay for services at a 50-unit affordable housing complex on Federal Boulevard for the city’s poorest residents.

Denver City Council on Monday approved giving REDI Corporation a $1.5 million loan and $825,000 to pay for supportive services at Rhonda’s Place, which will have 49 one-bedroom units available for people making up to 30 percent of the area median income (one other unit will be for an on-site manager). The housing complex will be located in the city’s Barnum neighborhood, at 211-225 South Federal Blvd.

REDI Corporation, which owns the vacant lot on Federal Boulevard, has hired Blueline Development to build the complex.

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New emergency mental health facilities open amid pandemic

DENVER7 | September 27, 2021

There’s a new type of emergency room in some cities designed to provide care specifically for someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

The Behavioral Health Solution Center in Denver, Colorado, is a first-of-its-kind facility offering both short and long-term care options.

The Support Team Assistance Response, or “STAR,” van is also a new mobile service option the city is offering patients instead of an ambulance or police squad car.

“We had initially a lot of surprise of, ‘Why is a van pulling up to me instead of the typical law enforcement response?’” said Chris Richardson, Associate Director of Criminal Justice Services with the Mental Health Center of Denver.

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Mental Health Center of Denver on rising health crisis in Denver

FOX31 | September 15, 2021

Death by suicide among young people is a rising health crisis in Denver, in fact, Denver is outpacing the national statistics by nearly 2-to-1.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and Carl Clark with the Mental Health Center of Denver is introducing STAY SAFE, a new and intensive suicide prevention program specifically developed to help address this alarming trend.

STAY SAFE, created with funds from the Caring for Denver Foundation is for Denver county youths ages 12-19 who have experienced a recent suicide attempt or severe suicide ideation. . STAY SAFE Partnership offers therapy, psychiatry, medication, case management and family support for two to four hours per week for approximately four to six weeks.

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Denver center tackles youth suicide crisis with new initiative

Wiley Online Library | September 10, 2021

As the country observed National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 5–11), a new program aimed at young people in Denver launched last week with a goal to reduce suicidality for this population. Death by suicide among Denver's youth outpaces national statistics by nearly 2-to-1, according to program officials at the Mental Health Center of Denver.

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A Mental Health Center Uses Photos To Connect People To Community

HealthAffairs | September 2021

Eight years ago, in 2013, Candice Vigil hit her lowest point. A domestic violence survivor, the Colorado mother of five found herself isolated and desperate: Her young son had cancer, her ex-husband was threatening to take custody of him, and she had just found out she was HIV-positive. In her despair, she tried to take her own life but was not successful.

“I just think I had like a break where my brain just finally shut down, I think, from too much stuff going on,” Vigil says. “And I just tried to plot my own self to not be here no more, and it didn’t work out the way I planned. So when I woke up, I was not even confused but really not coherent for a long time.”

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Denver sends mental health pros to some 911 calls, finds success

CNBC | September 9, 2021

CNBC’s Valerie Castro joins Shep Smith to report on Denver’s decision to expand its mental health response team after the success of its pilot.

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More traumatic events leading to more mental health crisis calls

9News | September 7, 2021

Fires, hurricanes, war, pandemic and terror attacks – there’s a lot going on in the world – and calls to crisis centers for mental health emergencies are increasing.

Crisis center counselors are experts at dealing with people in desperate personal emergencies and with recent traumatic events pilling up on all our minds, counselors are in high demand.

Between historic fires, hurricanes and terrorist attacks in the Middle East and the pandemic and everything else, there’s a lot that requires our attention.

9NEWS Psychologist Dr. Max Wachtel agreed – it’s exhausting. "Sometimes you need a breath. Sometimes you need like five breaths," said Dr. Wachtel.

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Mental Health Center of Denver launches new suicide prevention program

9News | September 5, 2021

As National Suicide Prevention Week begins, the Mental Health Center of Denver is starting a program to support teens and youth.

The Supporting Teens and Youth through Safety and Family Empowerment, or STAY SAFE, Partnership is an intensive suicide prevention program for youths ages 12-19 who have experienced a recent suicide attempt or severe suicidal ideation, the center said.

The center said it's the first program of its kind in Colorado.

“The availability of inpatient services, as well as intensive services after hospital discharges, has decreased in recent years. This shortage can make accessing care difficult,” said Bonnie Graham, program manager with the center's child and family services. “That’s why we want to make sure people are aware of suicide prevention information and resources we offer for both critical and less urgent situations.”

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Cities Add Emergency Facilities for Mental-Health Patients

The Wall Street Journal | September 1, 2021

Emergency facilities dedicated to mental-health patients are sprouting up across the U.S. to handle psychological trauma exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some new facilities dedicated to mental health act like urgent-care centers, allowing people to receive services without appointments. Others receive patients brought in by police and other first responders, who otherwise often have little choice but to drop those experiencing mental-health crises at emergency rooms or jail.

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STAR Program In Denver Expands To Respond To Calls Seven Days A Week

CBS4 Denver | August 31, 2021

The program that started out as just a pilot is expanding. The Support Team Assisted Response or STAR program was started last year as a way for a mental health professional and a paramedic to respond to low-level calls instead of a police officer.

STAR is an alternative 911 response program to those who are experiencing mental health, depression, poverty, homelessness and/or substance misuse challenges. The program has had a successful one-year pilot.

The STAR team is trained to de-escalate situations and connect individuals in distress with appropriate services. In partnership with the Mental Health Center of DenverDenver Health Paramedic Division, and the Denver Department of Public Safety, DDPHE will expand the program to respond to calls city-wide between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. seven days per week.

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New suicide-prevention program launches

YourHub | August 31, 2021

Death by suicide among young people is a rising health crisis in Denver, outpacing national statistics by nearly 2-to-1. As National Suicide Prevention Week approaches, September 5 – 11, 2021, the Mental Health Center of Denver is introducing Supporting Teens and Youth through Safety and Family Empowerment (STAY SAFE) Partnership, an intensive suicide prevention program specifically developed to help address this alarming trend.

STAY SAFE was created with funds from the Caring for Denver Foundation and is for Denver County youth ages 12-19 who have experienced a recent suicide attempt or severe suicidal ideation. The first program of its kind in Colorado, STAY SAFE Partnership offers a variety of culturally responsive services for youth and their families, including individual and family therapy, psychiatry, medication, case management and family support. Intensive services are provided on average for two to four hours per week for approximately four to six weeks.

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Denver’s STAR program, sending mental health pros on certain calls instead of police officers, is about to get bigger

The Denverite | August 30, 2021

The program sending mental health professionals instead of cops to certain calls in Denver will expand starting next month, adding at least one additional van with clinicians to take up calls around the city. With new funding, the intention is to cover the entire city, growing far beyond its original 6-square-mile limit in central Denver.

The Support Team Assisted Response program, better known as STAR, will be operated jointly by the Department of Public Safety, where it was originally managed as a pilot program, and the city’s Department of Public Health and Environment, which now has oversight on STAR’s operations and budget.

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15 months into Denver's STAR program, no calls directed to civilian-led teams have led to arrests

The Denver Gazette | August 30, 2021

A little more than a year into Denver's program designed to redirect emergency calls more suited for social services than police, none of those redirected calls have resulted in arrests.

The civilian-centered Support Team Assisted Response program sends pairs of mental health clinicians and paramedics to low-level, nonviolent situations after a 911 dispatcher screens calls and determines the appropriate response. STAR has responded to more than 1,600 calls since it began operating in June 2020, according to data presented Monday to Denver City Council’s Budget and Policy Committee.

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Data shows mental health crisis teams offer better outcomes than traditional police response

The Denver Channel | August 17, 2021

When law enforcement personnel respond to a call, every word that comes through the scanner offers insight into what they are about to encounter.

Oftentimes, those words allude to an underlying issue, like mental health problems, that can offer context to the actions that are taking place.

“You don’t know what that person’s intentions are and whether they’re interested in harming just themselves or somebody else,” said Kathy Evans, a co-responder with the Mental Health Center of Denver who responds to calls with officers from the Denver Police Department. “We try and focus on calls that may have a mental health component that don’t seem to have that mental health component right away.”

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Thousands of Coloradans await rental assistance as eviction moratorium expiration looms

Colorado Newsline | July 27, 2021

Colorado distributed $11.4 million in rental assistance in June — more than the previous five months combined. But thousands of households are still awaiting payments for approved rental assistance as the expiration of the federal eviction moratorium looms less than a week away.

The federal eviction ban, established in September 2020, is set to expire on July 31, with no indication from the White House or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the moratorium will be extended. Another protection that’s set to expire at the end of the month is an executive order issued by Gov. Jared Polis that gives tenants 30 days — not 10 — to get caught up on rent before a landlord can file an eviction.

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Remote Workers Plan Return To Office Amid Anxiety

CBS Denver | July 26, 2021

If you're someone with a return-to-work date looming over your head, you might be a little anxious about leaving the comfort of your home and heading back to a work environment that has a lot of uncertainties. Re-establishing the routine may take some time, from having to wake up a little earlier, dealing with more traffic on your morning commute or even figuring out how to leave your pet at home during work hours.

Jen Jackson, assistant program manager, licensed clinical social worker and licensed addiction at the Mental Health Center of Denver, says people are putting a lot of pressure on themselves with expectations while heading into this "new normal."

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Case Study: The 3 Pillars Guiding Learning Recovery — and Student Growth — at Our Denver Schools as We Rush to Catch Kids Up After the Pandemic

The 74 Million | July 26, 2021

The staff and board of University Prep Charter Schools stepped up this spring, recognizing an urgent need to develop an ambitious vision and catch-up plan that would support all children in getting back on track following more than a year of disruptions and struggles. Our objective: To ensure that, despite the significant challenges brought on by the pandemic, all our scholars will remain on track with grade-level performance, while receiving any and all supports they may need (academically, socially, emotionally and beyond).

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Denver City Council approves additional $1 million for STAR program

Denver Gazette | July 19, 2021

Denver’s City Council on Monday night voted to add $1 million in general fund money to the city’s Support Team Assisted Response program that sends pairs of paramedics and case workers instead of police to nonviolent calls.

District 10 Councilmember Chris Hinds said the boost in funding will allow the STAR program to expand across Denver. He said his office has gotten a flood of positive feedback about the program.

“I think that this is a great move for our city, for our unhoused neighbors, and for our housed neighbors. We should be putting more funding [into] treatment of causes to issues in our city, and STAR is one of those programs, including sending addiction and mental health counselors to calls that require that specialized training.”

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Key to disrupting Denver’s homeless-to-jail pipeline? Permanent supportive housing, study finds.

Colorado Newsline | July 16, 2021

The city of Denver embarked on a five-year experiment in 2016 to see if it could disrupt the city’s robust homeless-to-jail pipeline by providing permanent supportive housing, which couples housing with services such as substance use and mental health treatment.

The results?

A “remarkably successful initiative,” said Mary Cunningham, vice president of the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute, who helped conduct an independent evaluation of the program.

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Voz y Corazón, a Mental Health Center of Denver mentorship program, aims to combat youth suicide through art and community

Denverite | July 16, 2021

Alexa Bermúdez was 13 when she learned about Voz y Corazón. It’s an art-based suicide prevention program run by the Mental Health Center of Denver in partnership with about a dozen groups in and around Denver. Every week, small groups of young people meet with mentors trained in mental health and suicide intervention skills. They also meet with professional artists to work on art projects based on the participants’ interests.

Bermúdez’s therapist was heading a new Voz chapter that had formed in partnership with Bermúdez’s school, Montbello High School, and insisted she join. Initially, Bermúdez refused.

“I was really hesitant, just because I’m like, ‘It’s during my lunchtime. I really want to spend time with my friends,'” she said. “I was 13.”

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The Best of Health 2021

CoBiz Magazine | June 16, 2021

Best Behavioral/Mental Health Provider - Mental Health Center of Denver tied with Kaiser Permanente

Mental Health Center of Denver is committed to empowering adults, children and families alike to live lives as fulfilling as possible. MHCD has a presence in multiple Denver public schools and multiple community sites where it offers treatment, prevention, outreach and crisis services. Help is focused on increasing a person’s recovery throughout his or her life, not just once.

“The Mental Health Center of Denver is a place for recovery, resilience and well-being, known locally and nationally as a model for innovative and effective community behavioral health care,” the company indicates on its website.

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'Word of Thanks' nonprofits highlighted by Next with Kyle Clark in 2020

9News | June 2, 2021

In June 2020, Next with Kyle Clark’s “Word of Thanks” micro-giving campaign began.

Since then, Next viewers have donated millions of dollars to help small- and medium-sized non-profits in Colorado, including an animal hospital, wildfire recovery groups and mentoring programs.

The project is ongoing, as we look to help even more of our neighbors each week.

You can take a look at the groups we helped in 2020 in the list below. You can see our current work for the 2021 year here.

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Denver looks for solutions after increase in overdose deaths

9News | June 1, 2021

Overdose numbers in Colorado increased substantially during the pandemic, and numbers in Denver are trending in a similar direction in 2021.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), there were a total of 1,477 drug overdoses in the state last year. The annual average over the past five years was 970.

Denver's Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) also saw an increase from 225 total overdose deaths in 2019 to 370 in 2020.

Already this year in Denver, 111 people have died from overdoses.

"That has led to a lot of sleepless nights from my perspective," Jeff Holliday, Public Health Manager of DDPHE, said.

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Fatal drug overdoses surged 59% in Colorado last year as overall deaths rose during the pandemic

Denver Post | May 30, 2021

Fatal drug overdoses in Colorado surged 59% in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic ushered another public health crisis into the state, which largely avoided the grim scenes of the opioid epidemic several years ago.

While the pandemic likely played an indirect role in the surge in overdoses last year, Colorado also saw a significant increase in fentanyl use — so much so that in the summer of 2020, Denver’s public health and police officials issued a warning about the synthetic opioid.

“Fentanyl has invaded Denver,” said Dr. Jim Caruso, the city’s chief medical examiner.

There were 1,313 fatal overdoses in Colorado last year, up from roughly 824 such deaths recorded on average during the five previous years, according to finalized death certificate data from the state Department of Public Health and Environment.

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New program to address solutions for people in a BH crisis

Mental Health Weekly | May 24, 2021

Providing the right service in the right place under one roof is an important goal for what officials are calling a groundbreaking initiative aptly named the Behavioral Health Solutions Center, with an aim to divert people in crisis away from un-necessary jail time or a psychiatric hold. Operated by the Mental Health Center of Denver, the Behavioral Health Solutions Center offers people experiencing a behavioral health crisis a connection to first responders and mental health organizations.

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7 things to know about Denver STAR, a program to send mental health workers and medics to 911 calls

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | May 27, 2021

The calls for help kept rising in Denver: Welfare checks. Suicidal subjects. An overdose victim.

As 2020 began, even before a global pandemic swept across the country, Denver police data showed mental health-related 911 calls were up 17% from the three-year average.

Last June, the city launched Denver Support Team Assisted Response (STAR), a paramedic and mental health clinician team that headed to 911 calls in a van without police. They treated people with mental health and substance abuse issues and connected them with services.

six-month study of the new pilot program is showing signs of progress. The alternative team responded to 748 calls. None ended with police being called or an arrest.

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Understanding suicidal ideation and how to help

UC Health | May 24, 2021

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our mental health. Even the most resilient people are being challenged, but for those already suffering from mental illnesses, it has pushed them to their limits.

Symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders increased considerably in the United States from April through June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Certainly behavior and mental health always has been an issue but with COVID, it’s exacerbated,” said Josie Rosenberg, a behavioral health counselor at UCHealth Mountain Crest Behavioral Health Center in Fort Collins and UCHealth’s coordinator for Zero Suicide in northern Colorado. “For adolescents, it’s been hard doing online school and not having access to their social circles and extracurricular activities. They are burned out and parents are burned out by having to support their kids and do their work at home. Everyone knows it’s been an incredibly difficult year. Substance abuse is more prevalent, and we know financial struggles and problems can be a real risk factor for suicide.”

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Uptick in Mental Health Problems Prompts Calls for Crisis Intervention

The Well News | May 14, 2021

Incidents the past few days in New York City demonstrate why a congressional subcommittee met Thursday to discuss “a national mental health crisis.”

Last week, an emotionally disturbed man barricaded himself in a subway motorman’s car, shutting down train service on the rail line for an hour and a half.

Police reported that the incident was one of four subway disruptions caused by emotionally disturbed people on the same day. At least one of them included an assault, adding to the 40% increase this year in felony assaults on New York’s subway.

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Better Coordination Needed for Mental Health Emergencies, House Panel Told

MedPage Today | May 13, 2021

Better coordination between police departments and mental health providers is needed to help those having mental health crises, witnesses said at a House hearing Thursday.

"Communities in Connecticut and across the country do their best to patch together various types or levels of mental health response with insufficient resources," said Charles Dike (pronounced Dee-KAY), MD, medical director of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. "This patchwork typically relies too much on emergency rooms and police departments, and can result in patients languishing in emergency rooms, criminalization of persons with mental health and substance use disorders, and at times, the unnecessary and tragic loss of life."

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DDPHE launches groundbreaking Behavioral Health Solutions Center

Denver Gov | May 13, 2021

First responders and mental health organizations have a new referral option in the City and County of Denver created specifically for people experiencing a behavioral health crisis. The Behavioral Health Solutions Center houses Denver’s first multifunctional facility offering a three-tiered approach to help address the well-being of all residents, removing barriers and improving care coordination while promoting equity in the mental health and substance misuse care systems, both critical components of behavioral health.

Operated by the Mental Health Center of Denver (MCHD), under contract to the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE), the Behavioral Health Solutions Center is located at 2929 West 10th Avenue in Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood. The 28,741-square-foot Solutions Center will provide urgently needed services and options to help people recover from a behavioral health crisis by offering brief inpatient stays on the first floor, transitioning to treatment of up to thirty days on the third floor.

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New Denver center offers alternative to jail for people experiencing behavioral crisis

9News | May 13, 2021

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) announced details Thursday on a new facility for people experiencing a behavioral health crisis. The Behavioral Health Solutions Center is located at 2929 West 10th Ave. in Denver's Sun Valley neighborhood, and is described by DDPHE as "an innovative, treatment-focused, voluntary safe haven."

The 28,741-square-foot facility will be open 24/7 and provide needed services to help people recover from a behavioral health crisis by offering short inpatient stays on the first floor and transitioning to treatment of up to 30 days on the third floor, according to DDPHE. “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,” Mayor Hancock said in a news release.

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8 Resources for People Struggling with Mental Health in the Denver Area

5280 Magazine | May 12, 2021

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we need to take care of ourselves. After a traumatic year that included a global pandemic and a reckoning with systemic racism, experts in Colorado expect to see an increase in the number of Coloradans in need mental health treatment. “The coronavirus crisis has brought with it all kinds of grief, loneliness, disengagement, and stress that have disrupted the lives of Coloradans,” says Vincent Atchity, president and CEO of Mental Health Colorado, a mental health advocacy group in Denver. “The challenges of this last year will likely continue to affect us for some time to come.”

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KOAA Survey: Mental health treatment in Colorado

KOAA | May 11, 2021

The past year has been incredibly difficult for Coloradans to cope with. Along with an unprecedented pandemic that led to lockdowns, cuts in services, death, illness, job loss and more, the state has also experienced massive wildfires, calls for social justice reforms, a contentious 2020 election, an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and two mass shootings.

Any one of these events is enough to cause someone to need counseling from a mental health professional. Collectively, these events have led to an increase in the number of people in the state screening positive for stress and anxiety, according to Mental Health Colorado.

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Top Workplaces 2021: The best large companies to work for in Colorado

Denver Post | May 5, 2021

The Mental Health Center of Denver was voted a Top Workplace for the ninth year in a row.

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Celebrating May is Mental Health Month

CBHC | May 5, 2021

As we celebrate May as Mental Health Month, CBHC would like to thank Vincent Atchity, CEO of Mental Health Colorado, Dr. Carl Clark, CEO of Mental Health Center of Denver, Michelle Barnes, Executive Director of CDHS, Lieutenant Governor Diana Primavera, and Adam Weimer for participating in the annual May is Mental Health Month Proclamation.

This year the proclamation took place via a virtual platform thanks to our annual host, Mental Health Colorado, and the theme was "Healing Together". Each participant made remarks about how mental wellbeing affects us all, and many commented on their personal experiences dealing with mental wellness both during the pandemic and throughout their lives. We would like to thank Lieutenant Governor Primavera for reading the proclamation.

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Supportive Housing Has Proved Successful For Addressing Chronic Homelessness. Why Isn't There More In Colorado? | May 4, 2021

For decades, housing providers and researchers have shown that providing permanent supportive housing — which couples affordable housing programs with substance use and mental health treatment — is a successful model for supporting people experiencing chronic homelessness find stability.

The challenge has been soliciting the funding and political will to put it into practice. Denver launched a five-year program in 2016 to study how to creatively fund permanent supportive housing programs as an approach to tackling homelessness. The results of the study are expected this summer, but the state isn't waiting to start funding new projects.

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Mental Health Awareness Month More Important Than Ever In Post-Pandemic World | May 4, 2021

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and as we come out of the coronavirus pandemic, talking about mental health is more important than ever. The Colorado Crisis Line is seeing above a 30% increase in the number of calls, and community resources like the Mental Health Center of Denver is seeing an increase in demand for services as well.

"What we're noticing is that folks are staying in services longer," explained Cari Ladd, a clinician with the Mental Health Center of Denver. "So perhaps they would have transitioned out of services but because those needs become more complicated and more layered due to the pandemic, folks are staying around."

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Colorado leaders address mental health and COVID-19 recovery

KKTV | May 3, 2021

The state and mental health experts are teaming up to raise awareness for mental health across Colorado this May!

The month of May is known as “Mental Health Month” and this year the focus is COVID-19 recovery. The state has been raising awareness for mental health and well being since 1949 and this year the issue is more important than ever.

Experts say the current wave of infections and deaths from the virus is part of a bigger wave of mental health needs. They say the state should be prepared to deal with secondary health impacts like increased mental health and substance abuse issues.

Since the pandemic began, more than one million Coloradans have reportedly been diagnosed with a mental health condition, which is about 20% of the population.

Carl Clark, the president and CEO of the Mental Health Center of Denver, knows this is a difficult time for everyone but hopes this year more people can get the help they need.

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Mental Health Awareness Month More Important Than Ever In Post-Pandemic World

CBS Denver | May 3, 2021

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and as we come out of the coronavirus pandemic, talking about mental health is more important than ever. The Colorado Crisis Line is seeing above a 30% increase in the number of calls, and community resources like the Mental Health Center of Denver is seeing an increase in demand for services as well.

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How is Our Mental Health after a Year-long Pandemic?

Front Porch | April 1, 2021

Sixteen-year-old Kate Sun said she’d always been a happy, active kid. A junior at George Washington High School, she played four sports and had a weekend job. But when the pandemic hit, all of that went away. “I couldn’t see my friends. I was completely isolated. The pandemic has been very hard on me.”

In talking with friends on social media, she quickly realized she wasn’t the only one struggling with mental health issues, so she decided to do a research project polling other students. The results? Eighty-eight percent of the high schoolers said they felt loneliness some or all of the time and 85-percent said they felt sadness some or all of the time. “The results didn’t surprise me. Everyone I talk to is hanging on by a thread waiting for this to be over,” said Sun.

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8 ways to handle the anxiety that follows public violence all too familiar in Colorado

The Colorado Sun | March 26, 2021

Are you suddenly rethinking all of your daily routines, and wondering just how many could be disrupted by violence? Unfortunately, that’s normal.

Does a mundane trip to the grocery store suddenly open doors to fear and dread? Again, that is our new reality. With Colorado now having seen mass shootings at schools, at entertainment centers, at grocery stores, it is impossible to entirely escape those thoughts.

That does not mean there is nothing you can do with the feelings. Professionals who themselves have lived through multiple violent Colorado tragedies have recommendations on how to cope with traumatic events without letting them consume you. We checked in with psychiatrist Dr. Carl Clark, CEO of the large nonprofit clinical provider Mental Health Center of Denver, on common advice for their thousands of clients.

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New Mental Health Clinicians Are A Key Part Of RTD’s Changing Security System

CPR News | March 25, 2021

It was a quiet afternoon at Union Station, a calm few hours that Danielle Jones needed.

“I'm tired,” said Jones, who was on a 12-hour shift as a mental health clinician. “But I can't let that show because I'm helping people. If I get a suicide call, I have to be there for that person.”

Since May, Jones has been the sole clinician dedicated to the Regional Transportation District’s network of stations and vehicles — primarily in Denver. Now, RTD has contracted with the Mental Health Center of Denver to add three more.

"It's amazing,” she said with a tired laugh. “Because it's just been a lot, trying to navigate all of RTD. But now, thankfully, I have partners and backup.”

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MANSFIELD: Cleveland Needs STAR

Cool Cleveland | March 12, 2021

Denver is reporting early success with a program that “replaces traditional law enforcement responders with healthcare workers for some emergency calls. Previously, 911 operators in Denver only directed calls to police or fire department first responders. But the Support Team Assistance Response (STAR) pilot program created a third track for directing emergency calls to a two-person team: a medic and a clinician, staffed in a van from 10am to 6pm on weekdays.”

The STAR program was launched in June of 2020 and is already reporting promising results in its first six-month progress report. Plans are underway to add more vans and personnel to the existing fleet. The program aims to provide a “person-centric mobile crisis response to community members who are experiencing problems related to mental health, depression, poverty, homelessness or substance abuse issues.”

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Jesse Ogas named 2021 9NEWS Leader of the Year

9News | March 10, 2021

The Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation announced the 2021 9NEWS Leader of the Year during its annual Leading Colorado Luncheon presented by BBVA on Wednesday.

The annual event recognizes exceptional community leadership while raising scholarship funds to ensure professionals from all sectors can develop their skills and enhance their impact in the community.

Jesse Ogas was named the 2021 9NEWS Leader of the Year. 

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Mayor Michael Hancock Tours New Safe Outdoor Spaces, Comes Away Impressed

CBS | March 10, 2021

According to the annual Point-of-Time Survey on Jan. 27, 2020, 4,171 people in Denver identified as unhoused, and that number as increased by as much as 60% due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is one of the more complex challenges of public policy that we will ever meet,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

Every person experiencing homelessness has a unique story, and needs services tailored to meet their challenges.

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‘We forgot about fun’: Here’s what the pandemic did to children’s mental health

Chalkbeat | March 9, 2021

Over the last year, 5-year-old Guillermo started biting his fingernails. When preschool activities were moved online during the pandemic, he refused to sit in front of the computer. And before his grandmother passed away from lung cancer in August, he sometimes shied away from hugging her because he thought her coughing was because of COVID-19.

“He would not go close because he would say, ‘Abuelita has germs,’” said Guillermo’s mother, Patricia Robles, who lives in Denver.

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6-Month Experiment Replacing Denver Police With Mental Health Teams Dubbed A Success

NPR | March 8, 2021

A Denver city councilmember who supports defunding police weighs new success of replacing cops with mental health teams. Six months in, the team has responded to almost 750 calls, without one arrest.

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Denver’s STAR program successfully sent mental health professionals, not police, to hundreds of calls

Fox5 New York | February 24, 2021

DENVER - Calls for changing how authorities respond to people in distress have resounded across the country amid cases such as that of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died after police in Rochester put an anti-spitting hood over his head and restrained him on the ground while he was having a mental health crisis in March.

Chief Paul Pazen of the Denver Police Department said that changes that have people who specialize in mental health respond to calls that warrant such skills are just common sense.

"I saw the value of it right off the bat. If we’re talking about mental health calls for service, low-level mental health calls for service, that don’t need a police response, then let’s look and see if there are better approaches," Pazen said.

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Denver RTD hires three clinicians to assist customers experiencing mental health issues

Mass Transit | February 23, 2021

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) of Denver has hired three new mental health clinicians.

They join Danielle Jones, a certified psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner with the Mental Health Center of Denver (MHCD), who started last spring.

Anita Hoffman, LeAnne Figueroa and Mary Kent are also contracted through the MHCD and are assigned solely to RTD. This joint effort with MHCD provides support to customers who may not have access to, or knowledge of, available mental health services.

The clinicians will make contact with individuals who are exhibiting mental health issues within the city and county of Denver.

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Research shows only 1 in 3 Black adults with mental health issues receive care

Denver7 | February 17, 2021

According to research from Columbia University, Black adults are 20% more likely to experiences serious mental health problems, such as major depressive orders and generalized anxiety disorders. And, researchers say young Black adults experience higher rates of mental health problems while using mental health services than their white counterparts.

The disparity highlights the stigmatization of mental health issues in communities of color that has deterred Black men and women from seeking treatment, according to experts.

“Being a person of color and admitting that you need something is very difficult,” said Lesha Groves, a licensed therapist and the associate director of operations at the Mental Health Center of Denver.

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Denver successfully sent mental health professionals, not police, to hundreds of calls

USA Today | February 6, 2021

Another U.S. city is reporting early success with a program that replaces traditional law enforcement responders with health care workers for some emergency calls.

Previously, Denver 911 operators only directed calls to police or fire department first responders. But the Support Team Assistance Response (STAR) pilot program created a third track for directing emergency calls to a two-person team: a medic and a clinician, staffed in a van from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.

The STAR program, which launched in June, reported promising results in its six-month progress report. The program aims to provide a "person-centric mobile crisis response" to community members who are experiencing problems related to mental health, depression, poverty, homelessness, or substance abuse issues.

Read the full story

Mental Health Center Of Denver Sees Increase In Services For Children

CBS4 Denver | February 8, 2021

There are warning signs that parents can look out for as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

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Experiencing trauma from storming of U.S. Capitol is normal — even if you weren’t there, experts say

The Denver Post | January 7, 2021

Ethan Reed, a senior at Parker’s Legend High School, was supposed to be tuned into his virtual classes Wednesday afternoon. Instead, he sat with his family glued to the TV watching a violent mob of Trump supporters break down barricades surrounding the nation’s Capitol and storm the halls of Congress.

The 17-year-old couldn’t believe what he saw. Reed, who is a youth political activist, visited Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2019 and walked the same hallowed halls that were being vandalized. He recently applied to a college near the Capitol with aspirations of going into politics.

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