In the News
Watch & Read about Mental Health Center of Denver in the news.
Colorado Public Radio | June 15, 2017
What was once a blighted lot in Denver's Northeast Park Hill neighborhood is now an oasis for family health, food access and care.
Wrapped inside of the 4-acre Dahlia Campus for Health & Well-Being is the region's largest aquaponics greenhouse, which helps feed the neighborhood fish and greens. You'll find a 40,000 square foot urban garden, a children's dental clinic, teaching kitchens, a preschool, and a mental health care center.
Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits | April 2017 • Volume VIII • Issue IV
As one of the largest behavioral health centers in Colorado, the Mental Health Center of Denver has a significant impact on the area. It provides mental health treatment, prevention, outreach and crisis services to more than 44,000 children, families and adults each year.
The organization continues to increase its efforts, this time with a 60-unit permanent supportive housing development serving chronically homeless individuals who struggle with mental health and substance abuse in Denver.
Mental Health Center of Denver offers mental health first aid training to help people experiencing a mental health crisis
YourHub Denver | March 24, 2017
An estimated one in four Americans experiences a mental health issue each year. But because of the barriers to accessing mental health care, often people face their problems alone and only find help if their illness escalates into a full-blown crisis.
PBS Newshour | March 21, 2017
After years of neglect, parents in one of Denver's poorest neighborhoods hoped that a new preschool would be built in their community. Instead, they got much more.
William Brangham recently visited there, and he is back again with this report.
It's part of our weekly series Making the Grade.
Denver Post | January 7, 2017
The 911 call is a typical one. A disheveled man has been spotted for the third time that week wandering the street, making threatening gestures and talking loudly, but incoherently, to himself.
The response, however, is not typical.
As a result of the Denver Police Department’s new co-responder initiative, instead of a lone officer driving to the location to check out the person and perhaps arrest him, a licensed mental health clinician accompanies the officer, so a mental health diagnosis can be made on the spot. Then, a joint decision is made: arrest and jail; or mental health services.
Denver Post | November 15, 2016
The empty lot in the Northeast Park Hill neighborhood has always just been called the Dahlia. That space of land off Dahlia Street and East 35th Avenue was once the country’s largest African-American-owned mall, and there have been many empty promises about what would take its place. But one promise was kept and the site is now called the Mental Health Center’s Dahlia Campus for Health and Well Being — and it’s still identified by the familiar name.
Denver Post | November 2, 2016
At the community mental health center east of downtown, people scheduled for therapy appointments stamp out cigarette butts on the sidewalk after a few last drags. Inside, others picking up prescriptions sit in a hospital-like waiting area, some with everything they own stuffed in backpacks and shopping bags. Fairly often, someone shouts or sings or talks to themselves.
Teenagers don’t like it here much.
So they don’t come often — to the Mental Health Center of Denver’s clinical offices or to its adult psychiatric rehab center south of downtown, where instructors teach culinary job skills in a cafe and art classes in a basement studio. In fact, the age group least likely to seek and get help at the mental health center is 17 to 25, about the same age range when many serious mental health issues — including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia — typically first emerge.
Confluence Denver | October 26, 2016
Denver is building, rebuilding, renovating and reinventing. Here are 12 of the projects we're most excited to check out once the dust settles. When Sanderson Apartments opens next summer at 1601 S. Federal Blvd., 60 chronically homeless people in Denver will have a place to call home.
Modeled after successful permanent supportive housing projects in other U.S. cities, Sanderson will be the largest supportive housing project for the Mental Health Center of Denver, a nonprofit community mental health center that has been delivering comprehensive and accessible mental health and substance abuse treatment, housing, education and employment services to children, families and adults for more than 25 years.
Mayor Michael B. Hancock honored as 2016 Community Champion at the Mental Health Center of Denver’s Gifts of Hope; Community turns out in force to support mental health programs
Denver Post's YourHub | October 13, 2016
On Oct. 11, nearly 600 community members gathered to support the Mental Health Center of Denver at its annual Gifts of Hope Fundraising Breakfast. At the event, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock was honored as the 2016 Community Champion Award for his many efforts to support mental health programs and improve well-being in Denver.
CIO Review | September 30, 2016
Technology is not my organization’s business. Helping people improve their mental health and helping our clinicians reach more people using more effective mental health interventions–that is our business. It may seem obvious, but it is easy to get caught up in technology for its own sake. Our staff is only interested in technology when it makes for better and more efficient delivery of mental health care and better support for our clinicians. So, the mission of our Information Systems department is to find or create the information tools that staff can quickly learn to use.
Mental health workers join Denver police officers to help divert people to treatment instead of jail
Denver Post | September 2, 2016
Mental health workers are joining Denver police on foot and in their patrol cars to help handle calls involving people in mental health crisis, a new program aimed at getting people into treatment instead of sending them to jail.
The six social workers and clinicians are employees of the Mental Health Center of Denver but work at Denver police headquarters through the partnership, called the “co-responder” program. The $500,000 initiative, funded through grants and other money from Denver Human Services, is part of the city’s crisis intervention and response unit specializing in mental and behavioral health calls.
Channel 7 News | September 2, 2016
DENVER -- Denver police and sheriff deputies are trained to deal with people who are coping with mental health challenges. They’re taught how to de-escalate situations.
Sometimes they need expert help.
Last April, Denver PD, the Department of Human Service’s Office of Behavioral Health Strategies and the Mental Health Center of Denver teamed up, to better serve the mental and behavioral health needs of those they come into contact with, as first responders.
“Between April and July alone, we saw over 400 calls,” said Julie Smith, the director of marketing and communications for the Department of Human Services. “We were able to connect most of them to treatment that will help them move forward.”
CBS Denver | June 7, 2016
DENVER (CBS4) – Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults in Colorado, according to the 2014-1215 report from the Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention. Now one group is trying to change that.
Rocky Mountain PBS speaks with Maya Wheeler and Dr. Lydia Prado exploring Dahlia Campus for Health & Well-Being. (Interview begins at 14:13)
Rocky Mountain PBS | May 27, 2016
DENVER - Leaders of the Second Chance Center in Aurora discuss what it takes to help parolees reintegrate in their communities and avoid going back to prison; How a new community center in Denver’s Park Hill became more than just a mental health clinic; Why Denver Police are reaching out to teens to improve their mutual perceptions about each other.
Former Mental Health Center of Denver Board Member, Roberta Payne, PhD, talks with 9News about living with a mental illness.
9News | May 17, 2016
DENVER - Schizophrenia is a genetic disease that is not common. It affects just 1 percent of Americans. Even though it affects a small number of the population, it's ramifications are huge. People with schizophrenia have an imbalance of brain chemicals. It's those chemicals that stimulate nerve cells in the brain to communicate with each other.
9News | May 17, 2016
KUSA - May is Mental Health Month. Statistics show that more than 50 percent of lifetime cases of mental illness start at about age 14.
Particularly when talking about preadolescence, it's hard to tell the difference between typical moodiness and something that needs a little more help.
9News | April 25, 2016
DENVER - A three-story, 50,000 square-foot building with 60 one-bedroom furnished apartments and on-site staff will soon open to help Denver's homeless.
The Sanderson Apartments, located at 1601 S. Federal Blvd., is the largest supportive housing project for the Mental Health Center of Denver.
"We're estimating that we're about 26,000 affordable housing units short," Dr. Carl Clark, CEO of Denver Mental Health Center, said. "So this particular project is 60 units -- that's good but we've got a long way to go."
Denver Post | April 25, 2016
Construction began Monday on a new Denver apartment building that will house 60 people who are chronically homeless, a joint project of the city and a community mental health center.
The three-story Sanderson Apartments, at Federal Boulevard and West Iowa Avenue, is expected to open in summer 2017. It will become the Mental Health Center of Denver's largest "supportive living" center, meaning residents will have on-site mental health care.
BusinessDen | April 25, 2016
On Monday, the Mental Health Center of Denver (MHCD) broke ground on a $10.6 million apartment building in southwest Denver that includes counseling and other services onsite.
Sanderson Apartments’ 60 one-bedroom units will be open to the physically and mentally disabled as well as to homeless and low-income Denverites.
CBS Denver | April 26, 2016
DENVER (CBS4)– A new housing project in Denver has been designed to help those who are chronically homeless. The Sanderson Apartments will house some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
Employees with the Mental Health Center of Denver broke ground on the new complex at Federal Boulevard and Alameda Avenue on Monday.
Denver Real Estate Watch | April 26, 2016
Sanderson Apartments groundbreaking was held on Monday. It will provide 60 units for the recently homeless. The apartment development in SW Denver opens in 2017.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday for the 60-unit Sanderson Apartments that will serve formerly homeless in Denver.
Colorado Public Radio | Mar 8, 2016
Rocky Mountain PBS | Mar 4, 2016
The Denver Post | Feb 28, 2016
On a day more than 30 years ago when she answered the knock at her Five Points home, Brenda Marshall-Wright did not immediately recognize the beginning of an ordeal that would span decades of heartbreak and frustration.
Energy Outreach Colorado | Feb 8, 2016
Mental Health Center of Denver’s newly-opened Dahlia Campus for Health & Well-Being is a welcoming place for members of the Northeast Park Hill neighborhood in Denver to connect, learn new skills and find support services. Energy Outreach Colorado supported the innovative project with a $25,000 energy efficiency grant.
National Council for Behavioral Health | Feb 2, 2016
Denver’s Northeast Park Hill is a proud neighborhood filled with strong people. Built in the 1950s, Dahlia Square was the largest African-American-owned shopping center in the U.S. with a thriving grocery store, roller-skating rink, bowling alley and a full array of local businesses. But times changed and gradually the once popular neighborhood nucleus became an eyesore and was razed. It became a gaping hole in the neighborhood fabric.
5280 Magazine | December 2015
Babies are a little (ok, a lot) emotional. One moment they coo, and the next they sob seemingly because you had the audacity to hand them a favorite toy. That over-the-top spectrum of behavior is completely normal. What’s not is an unusually withdrawn baby, one who has stopped crying to communicate, which can be an early sign that his mental wellness is hurting. “We diagnose PTSD in babies as young as nine months old,” says Dr. Shannon Bekman, program manager for Denver’s Right Start for Infant Mental Health. “You can diagnose depression fairly reliably in an infant as young as four months.”
Denver Post | December 14, 2015
Northeast Park Hill has seen promises broken before. So when Denver's community mental health center began planning a new clinic at the site of what was, in its heyday, the country's largest African-American-owned mall, the response was skepticism.
Where Kids In Poverty And Education Intersect, Daily Uncertainties Remain - See more at: Where Kids In Poverty And Education Intersect, Daily Uncertainties Remain
Colorado Public Radio | December 10, 2015
More than a year ago we saw one census statistic we just couldn't shake. At the time, nearly one in five kids in the state were living in poverty. We set out to learn about childhood poverty in Colorado: What it looked like and what was being done about it. We're looking back at our coverage now, taking stock of what we've learned and revisiting some of the people we interviewed.
Greater Park Hill Community | Dec 1, 2015
As we near the end of the fall semester, many of us wonder how we made it this far without hurting someone. OK, that may sound a little drastic, but now that students have been in school for five months, for some, the newness (i.e. new teachers, new friends, new interests) has lost its luster. Instead of being happy each day, some of our children are naming every excuse in the book explaining why he or she can’t possibly go to school on a given day.
BusinessDen | Nov 24, 2015
After three years of planning, the Mental Health Center of Denver’s new site in northeast Denver will open Dec. 15.
The Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-Being at East 35th Avenue and Dahlia Street will include not just space for counselors to meet with patients, but also a dental clinic, two schools and a community garden.
PBS | November 18, 2015
Michelle Tijerina of Mental Health Center of Denver's Voz y Corazon program was featured on PBS's In Studio Follow Up discussion of the documentary Walking Man.
Colorado Public Radio | June 12, 2015
Alexandra’s black sketchbook is filled with her pencil drawings of roses, dresses, and people. The people don’t look like her. But they reflect the emotions Alexandra has felt. “I’ve suffered from depression since I started middle school,” the 14-year-old says. For Alexandra, art is also a distraction from her worries. Life can still be hard. So she draws, she paints, and makes jewelry with a Denver program called Voz y Corazón.
The Denver Post | April 10, 2015
Over the past few weeks, there have been several distressing acts, both in Colorado and internationally, that have left many of us saddened and stunned at their senselessness. It has been widely reported that the perpetrators of both the Germanwings airplane tragedy, as well as the actions committed against a pregnant Longmont woman, were both experiencing depression.
The Villager | April 8, 2015
The 14th annual Centus Samaritan Luncheon is May 5 and is being held at the Police Protective Association Event Center.
Former Colorado first lady Jeannie Ritter, Mental Health Ambassador of the Mental Health Center of Denver, and Dr. Carl Clark, president and CEO of the Mental Health Center of Denver, are honorees. Ritter is well known as a mental health advocate and an outspoken voice for mental health.
The Advisory Board Company | December 15, 2014
The 11th installment of the Daily Briefing's Architectural Design Showcase features 12 facilities that focus on behavioral health services, including the Mental Health Center of Denver.
The Denver Post | December 15, 2014
Mental health advocate Don Mares, a former Denver auditor, will return to city government to coordinate far-flung efforts and create a strategy on the mental health issue.
Denver Life Magazine | December 15, 2014
The Mental Health Center of Denver's President and CEO, Dr. Carl Clark, was quoted in the "Receiving the Benefits of Giving" article in the December 2014 issue of Denver Life Magazine.
The Denver Post | November 25, 2014
Mental Health Center of Denver Programs and Consumers Featured in Recent Series in the Denver Post.
The Denver Post | November 6, 2014
Mayor Michael B. Hancock joined community leaders to break ground and officially announce the name of the Mental Health Center of Denver’s new child and family site.
Interiors & Sources Magazine | October 24, 2014
The Mental Health Center of Denver’s Recovery Center was chosen by Interiors and Sources magazine as one of their Top 10 LEED buildings for 2014.
Denver Life Magazine | October 10, 2014
We are pleased to announce that the Mental Health Center of Denver was featured in the 2014 October issue of Denver Life Magazine.
The Denver Post | April 15, 2014
Therapies based on brain science — and limited use of antipsychotic medications — are the answer for thousands of foster kids whose traumatic childhoods have left them with depression and extreme aggression, according to a growing number of experts.
Durango Herald | April 8, 2014
Alex Meredith, 29, sorts clothes hangers at his part-time job at Arc Thrift Store in Lakewood. Meredith was diagnosed with autism when he was very young. He also displayed symptoms of mental illness – obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, psychosis and depression.
Rocky Mountain PBS | April 7, 2014
Ric Durity remembers when HIV/AIDS wiped out his partner, his friends, and a swath of the creative classes of a generation.
And he remembers what came next: The outrage that rode on the heels of adversity, and demanded the wide changes that rippled from medicine outward.
The Denver Post | April 6, 2014
Most of a $22 million infusion into Colorado's stressed mental health system — a response by the governor to the Aurora movie theater massacre — is stranded in the courts as the state and disappointed bidders wrestle for the money.
Fox 31 Denver | April 5, 2014
On Saturday, Colorado picked up what President Obama started ten months ago at the White House, a national conversation about mental health in the United States. Forty-five million Americans, and one in four Coloradans, will suffer from mental illnesses, like depression, bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress syndrome. Across the state, over a hundred individuals gathered Saturday as part of the Creating Community Solutions effort.
The Gazette | April 4, 2014
A raised red oval, a couple of inches in diameter, sits at the top of Alex Meredith's forehead. It is the physical mark of a besieged mind. Meredith, who is 29, started bashing himself in the head when he was in his teens. Now, his parents can see it coming.
Colorado Business Magazine | February 7, 2014
Employee engagement is a concept that many companies struggle with. A recent Gallup report, State of American Workplace 2013, found that only about 30 percent of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs. That means a whopping 70 percent of employees are actively disengaged, costing the U.S. an estimated $450 to $550 billion annually in lost productivity. Creating a culture that keeps employees actively involved is a process that continues to evolve.
Intermountain Jewish News | January 9, 2014
Hundreds of people turned out to express an interest in mental illness in the Jewish community, attending the inaugural event of Areivim Taskforce Denver, Jan. 5, at Zera Abraham.
North Denver Tribune | December 24, 2013
The goal of KCF is to provide a Christmas experience for kids that would not have one. “The idea was born when a friend reached out to me about a family that was not going to have presents, a tree or a meal for the holidays.” said Greg Garman, one of the founding members of the organization.
The Denver Post | December 24, 2013
Since the beginning of this school year, reports of 16 planned attacks — that someone had a hit list or was coming to school with a gun — were made to Safe2Tell, the anonymous hotline where people can report threats against themselves or others.
In 2012, 42 planned school attacks were received, more than half in December after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Colorado Business Magazine | December 17, 2013
Dr. Clark was among 24 outstanding finalists from all over the state with Tim Miller, CEO of Rally Software, being chosen as CEO of the Year. Each finalist was asked to respond to questions about the philosophies or experiences that shaped them.
5280 Magazine | December 1, 2013
It wasn't raining on that day last July, but it might as well have been. Judy, 68, was born and raised under Colorado's bluebird skies, and lately she felt tossed around in a torrential, unrelenting storm that only she saw. It was often lonely and bleak. And now it was frightening: she couldn't find her son.
The Denver Post | October 27, 2013
High turnover rates at community mental health centers were the norm a decade ago, with some Colorado safety-net clinics reporting 34 percent of clinicians leaving each year.
The trend has reversed at some centers, where managers have improved recruitment and retention by focusing on improved work conditions and benefits for employees who treat low-income and uninsured patients who often have been referred there after a mental health emergency.
Modern Healthcare | May 5, 2013
The Mental Health Center of Denver's new Recovery Center, which opened last July, was recently awarded LEED platinum certification—the highest level of recognition under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. The center is the first healthcare institution to earn LEED platinum certification in Colorado.
Denver Business Journal | April 26, 2013
The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce handed out business honors on Friday at its annual awards luncheon, held at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center.
Rocky Mountain PBS | April 17, 2013
Host Tamara Banks talks with a panel of experts about the recent bombings that took place near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. With three people killed and close to 200 injured, President Obama has recently come out citing this tragedy as an act of terror. Guests discuss how this could have happened and what's next for Americans in addressing "terrorism."
Healthcare Design Magazine | March 21, 2013
The Denver Post | March 17, 2013
One in four people will face a mental-health issue this year, several studies say. Leaders of Colorado's 17 mental-health centers are pushing to expand programs to better treat people struggling with milder issues before they slide into crisis — a level of mental illness that is more difficult and costly to treat.
Community mental-health centers across the state, already plagued by a shortage of beds and long waiting lists, have seen the number of people seeking services spike in recent years — some seeing the populations double in less than five years.
The Denver Post | February 19, 2013
There is a system in place to help parents manage kids with mental illness. Schools and counselors communicate with parents and doctors work with them to ensure a correct diagnosis and that the child receives proper medications.
But as children grow older, state health laws allow them to keep their parents out of the loop, leaving it up to the person struggling with mental illness to follow through with treatment.
Colorado Statesman | January 25, 2013
Colorado Public Radio | January 8, 2013
Denver resident Rich Ables used to be in and out of emergency rooms twice a week for asthma attacks. Now, he’s only had to go to the ER twice in the last year and a half. The treatment breakthrough? Helping him get an apartment and mental health counseling. CPR Health Reporter Eric Whitney says “hotspotters” look for people like Ables, who use far more healthcare than the average person, then intervene to keep them healthier...
The Denver Post | June 25, 2012
Denver's anchor mental-health center is spending millions to renovate a headquarters clinic, but officials are spending a lot of time thinking about 99-cent pill boxes.
For the deeply troubled, a pill organizer represents much more than a hunk of molded plastic. The medication inside is a lifeline, and sorting, scheduling and remembering pills is a crucial signal of wellness for many.
Mental Health Center CEO Knows the Toll of the Economic Downturn
Colorado Business Magazine | September 1, 2011
Three years ago, Carl Clark, CEO of the Mental Health Center of Denver, threw down the gauntlet to his staff of 500 - to make his organization the greenest mental health center in the country.
Mugs replaced disposable cups; bottled water was eliminated; staff were given Eco Passes to encourage bus ridership and Clark would ride his bike to work. "People like doing things in a green way so staff have really taken to it," said Clark, who is overseeing the $15 million purchase and renovation of a building at 4455 E. 12th Ave. in Denver that will open next year as an adult services recovery center.
"Our goal is to have it be the highest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification that we can get. The engineers calculated that it will save 1 million kilowatts a year, which is enough energy for 94 homes for a year."
The 75,000-square-foot building will offer primary-care services alongside mental health services and enable MHCD to serve 2,000 more people at any given time. It couldn't come at a better time, as the economic downturn means more business for Colorado's largest mental health center, which cares for 5,500 people and operates on a $60 million annual budget.
"Five years ago we were bringing in five people a day and were turning away 10 people a day, so we came up with a plan that if we doubled in size, we'd be able to meet all the needs," said Clark, a practicing psychiatrist who sees homeless patients a half-day each week. "Well, we did that, and today we bring in 10 people a day and turn away 20. When the economy is bad, people who were going to develop a problem will find it showing up sooner under the stress of bad economic circumstances."
People also are less reticent to seek help than they were five years ago.
"More people have an awareness that if you have depression, you should go see someone. Or if you have bipolar, to get some treatment," Clark said. "People know us better than they did five years ago, so that's better."
Clark, who grew up in Tulsa, Okla., and earned his medical degree from the University of Colorado, joined MHCD in 1989 and was named CEO 10 years ago. Earlier this year he was named chairman of the board of directors of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare - a 2,000-member trade organization.
"We have a very progressively thinking group of people who work here, and we're always changing, so I haven't had to move around to have new challenges," Clark said.
Clark chose to go into the not-for-profit world after experiencing his father's struggle with bipolar disorder that led to his stay in a state mental hospital. "I wanted families to get what my family had. I feel lucky that there was a place we could go when my dad was ill - and that's our mission here," said Clark, 55. "We want to be able to provide services to anybody who needs them out in the community.
His father ultimately recovered from his illness, returned to work full time and would inspire Clark's long-held belief that people can and do recover from mental illness.
"I feel very grateful that I didn't lose my dad to suicide or other bad things that can happen when people are ill and not in treatment," Clark said. "He was a great guy, and I got a lot out of having my dad around."
Colorado Statesman | May 6, 2011
With the advent of national healthcare reform come countless changes to how healthcare is delivered and paid for in America. Over the next several years the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordability Act of 2010, requiring that all Americans have health insurance coverage, will go into effect.
Denver Business Journal | November 12, 2010
Mental health care in Denver stands to get a major boost from the federal health care reform bill.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable care Act, mental halth care will be considered an essential benefit that must be offered - as is physical health care - by all insurers when the individual insurance mandate takes effect in 2014.
Mental Health Weekly | October 18, 2010
The Mental Health Center of Denver had held a series of recovery-focused conference events about a decade ago, but its leaders were getting restless. They realized that sponsoring a conference really wouldn’t move the needle on transforming their own community mental health facility from one that simply tried to keep clients out of the hospital to one that helped people achieve a meaningful life in recovery.
Behavioral Healthcare | October 1, 2010
Carl Clark, MD, focuses consumers and staff on what they can do, not what they can't, to promote recovery and growth
Carl Clark, MD, believed in recovery long before the behavioral healthcare industry adopted it as a model of treatment. As a child, he witnessed recovery firsthand when his father, then in his mid-30s, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Rather than succumb to his illness, Clark's father worked hard at his recovery, eventually returning to work full time.
National Council Magazine | September 1, 2007
Carl Clark, MD, Chief Executive Offi cer and P. Antonio Olmos-Gallo, PhD, Director of Evaluation & Research — Mental Health Center of Denver
“As clinicians, we have historically used anecdotal data to inform clinical practice to promote recovery outcomes for consumers. With Recovery Markers, we now have longitudinal, empirical data to support our clinical judgment and decisions.”
Measuring our success in recovery requires those of us in mental health service delivery to be more accountable to our communities and to demonstrate the difference we make in the lives of the people we serve.
Behavioral Healthcare | March 1, 2006
Homeless consumers are empowered to make decisions that fundamentally change their lives.