By Jennifer McRae

DENVER (CBS4)– Gov. Jared Polis announced a behavioral health blueprint on Wednesday. It’s a road map to improve current mental health systems in Colorado.

(credit: CBS)

Polis said it took more than 100 members and more than a year to create the task force. The hope is to help people battling mental illness and substance abuse.

“We want Colorado’s system to be the model for other states considering how to improve mental health care,” said Polis. “I know this has been countless hours of work on behalf of Coloradans and want to acknowledge all that has been accomplished. I look forward to helping streamline services, reduce duplication, and put customers first so that every Coloradan experiencing behavioral health issues can access timely, high-quality services in their communities in a cost-efficient manner.”

(credit: CBS)

The task force recommended establishing a statewide behavioral health administration, a new state agency that will consolidate all non-insurance based behavioral health funding and oversee those services to ensure that services respond to and meet Coloradans’ needs.

“Behavioral health is just as critical as our physical health and we must create a system that better serves all Coloradans, but especially those suffering with mental health or substance use issues,” said Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera, member of the Behavioral Health Task Force, in a statement. “I’m proud of the hard work this task force has done to create a plan that will outline ways to better serve those who have historically faced barriers to care. Too many Coloradans have lost a loved one to suicide or substance use, so while I’m proud of what we’ve done so far, I know this is just the beginning.”

(credit: CBS)

An estimated 1 million Coloradans have a behavioral health condition but the state ranks in the bottom half of states in access to care. Colorado also has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation.

Jennifer McRae