Colorado’s New Mental Health Task Force to Begin Meeting Next Month

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Original Article Published on DenverPost.com

A new task force requested by Gov. John Hickenlooper after he vetoed a bill that would have expanded Colorado’s mental health hold law will begin meeting next month.

The panel’s orders are to figure out how Coloradans in crises will receive mental health services, “while preserving their fundamental rights.”

The 30-member group was created by the Colorado Department of Human Services this week and will first meet Aug. 4.

The governor asked the human services department to create the task force after he vetoed Senate Bill 169 last month. The legislation would have expanded the number of places a person could be housed during a mental health hold, and the length of time a person could be held in jail or an emergency room while waiting for a bed at a mental health facility.

At the time, Hickenlooper said he agreed that mental health facilities are “not always readily available” during a mental health crisis, but that the legislation did “not provide adequate due process” for people with mental illness.

The panel will make legislative and policy recommendations regarding proper mental health treatment that satisfies a person’s rights under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. It also will find ways to keep people with mental illness who have not committed a crime out of jail, provide in-patient psychiatric care to people in crisis, and develop a data-tracking system to learn the scope of the mental health hold problem in Colorado.

The task force’s first meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Aug. 4 at History Colorado, 1200 Broadway. Meetings are open to the public. The group will meet twice monthly and produce recommendations by Jan. 1.

 

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