A $10 million pledge will help the University of Colorado create a center dedicated to improving mental health services in Colorado.
The university said Friday the five-year commitment, one of the largest gifts ever to the university’s Anschutz Medical Campus, will finance a new National Behavioral Health Innovation Center in Aurora.
The gift came from The Anschutz Foundation and is designed to create what the university calls a “virtual center” to help people in Colorado and across the nation gain mental health training and expertise. The center does not plan to treat patients.
“We’re trying to work with existing services,” said Matt Vogl, executive director of the new center.
Part of its role, he said, will be to help businesses, schools and first responders recognize signs of mental illnesses early, when they are easiest to treat. He likened that role to backstage workers at a theater production.
“We’re just there to get them up and running,” he said, “helping do whatever needs to be done.”
In December 2014, Colorado received a $65 million grant for mental health programs. A coalition of Colorado experts has been working to help primary care physicians and pediatricians add mental health therapists to their practices.
Vogl said the university grant is separate, but the center may work with the state on elements of mental health care such as suicide prevention.
“There are few areas of health care more important and less understood than mental and behavioral health,” university president Bruce Benson said of the pledge. “We couldn’t be more grateful for their continued philanthropic partnership.”