By Shawn Chitnis

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The Medical Center of Aurora is expanding its North Campus Behavioral Health and Wellness Center to meet the increasing mental health needs of the community by adding more beds for patients at that location.

“He just suddenly was suicidal and depressed,” said Robin Cutright, the mother of a patient treated at the Center.

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Zach Cutright (credit: CBS)

Zach Cutright, 26, was been a high functioning child and now adult with autism before his family noticed a major change 18 months ago. Cutright says her son had kidney stones and was given a specific medication for a few days. They are not sure what caused the different behavior in Zach after that treatment.

“All the other things hadn’t been working,” she said.

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(credit: CBS)

After trying several different approaches to help Zach, they were referred to staff at the Behavioral Health & Wellness Center. Zach had tried crisis services more than 30 times and visited the emergency room 50 times before he started this treatment. He was reluctant to try a new approach but his family and the team helped him to find the right therapy he needed.

medical center of aurora behavioral health wellness center 2 Mental Health Center That Helped Young Man Overcome Struggle Expands

(credit: CBS)

“This is it. This is really working,” said Zach’s mother. “He’s happy now and he’s not suicidal.”

Cutright knows that her son along with many others still struggle with accepting mental illness as a serious condition that requires attention and professional help. She hopes her son’s case can provide a window into what it is like to face this issue. Staff at the Center say they also know it’s a challenge for many but the number of people that could benefit from treatment is only growing.

“I think he felt like a mental illness is not like a physical illness,” she said. “It’s like if somebody had cancer, or had even just a broken leg.”

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(credit: CBS)

Last month staff announced they will add 50 new beds to the north campus, location bringing the total to 128.

In the United States, 18 percent of adults have a mental health condition and in Colorado, almost 20 percent of adults reported having a mental illness, according to statistics provided by the Center.

“You’re not alone, we’re struggling and we’re seeing a big increase in mental health,” said Jeff Johnson, Director of Outpatient Services at The Medical Center of Aurora. “We’re looking to expand as much as we can, really to meet the needs of the community.”

Cutright found programs like art and music therapy most helpful in expressing his feelings to staff. His family has noticed the difference since he started treatment there. His mother says before it took him days to get over being depressed but now it can take only 20 minutes. She also says he was struggling to focus on even reading a magazine but now talks about looking for a job again.

“He needed to take care of himself but he couldn’t do that on his own,” she said. “We’re starting to see that there definitely is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

LINK: auroramed.com/mentalhealth

Shawn Chitnis reports for CBS4 News at 10 on weekends and CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. throughout the week. Email him story ideas at smchitnis@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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