Mental Health Advocates Laud Gov’s Plan For Mental Health System

DENVER (CBS4) – Gov. John Hickenlooper announced a major overhaul of the state’s mental health system on Tuesday. He’s asking the legislature for millions of dollars to improve treatment and prevention, and mental health advocates say it’s about time.

“I’ve been in a particularly dark place,” Jordan Canjar said.

Jordan was delusional and his mom, Alison Canjar, was desperate. It was the fall of 2008 and he was ranting and threatening violence when she took him to a hospital emergency department.

“They just sent us home without any more advice except (to) find a psychiatrist,” Alison said.

Six months later Jordan tried to kill himself. Only then did they learn he had schizophrenia, and only then did he get treatment.

“It shouldn’t have gotten to that point,” Jordan said.

“Our system is so overburdened that it takes real severe cases for them to even get into a psychiatric bed in a facility because they just don’t have the room,” Alison said.

RELATED: Hickenlooper Wants Expansion Of Mental Health Care

Colorado ranks 48th in the nation in the number of psychiatric beds it has. Hickenlooper plans to change that. He’s asking the legislature to approve $18.5 million for mental health treatment.

“Certainly now more than ever we need to have tough discussions about how to enhance our system,” Hickenlooper said.

“Over time with care and support and the right medications and treatment we got our son back,” Alison said.

She says other families deserve the same.

“I have a responsibility to reduce the stigma, ” Jordan said. “If we can increase the chances of people receiving treatment, I don’t think I’d be an exceptional story of mental illness.”

The governor also announced that he is authorizing the courts to transfer mental health commitment records electronically to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation so it receives the information in real time for gun sale registries.

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