Colorado Springs has 20 private-practice psychiatrists for 700,000 people. That’s one per 35,000 residents.
More than 450,000 Coloradans need access to mental health care or substance abuse treatment and can’t get it. Four out of five women in Colorado jails and prisons have a mental illness.
Despite an unparalleled reputation for physical health, Colorado’s residents rank among the most mentally unhealthy people in the country. Our state ranks 48th out of 50 states in the quality of care available for children.
All year long, a team of Gazette journalists has been investigating the gaps in care for children, for veterans, for the community at large.
Experts we have interviewed during our series led a Community Conversation on Wednesday night at Studio Bee at the Pikes Peak Center to answer your questions. The town hall, co-hosted by KKTV and sponsored by The Family Care Center, continues a series of Community Conversations on important issues for our region, such as affordable housing, bike lanes, dangerous roads and homelessness.
Our expert panelists were:
• Sen. Bob Gardner: R-Colorado Springs, co-sponsor of legislation to improve the state’s behavioral health system for kids.
• Vincent Atchity, executive director of The Equitas Project, which works on issues related to prisons and mental health.
• Dr. Rebecca Berghost, associate medical director of children and adolescent programs at Cedar Springs Hospital, a behavioral treatment center in Colorado Springs.
• Dr. Leon Kelly, M.D., the coroner and chief medical examiner of El Paso County and vice president, NAMI board of directors. He co-founded the county’s Child Fatality Review Team to help lead local suicide prevention efforts.
The panelists looked at the range of solutions being considered as state officials and community leaders sharpen their focus on what for many is a vicious cycle of despair and ruin. New laws have been passed this year to help improve mental health care, and Gov. Jared Polis has formed a statewide task force to study solutions across the state.