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State looks to improve behavioral health; Utes get new center

Ute Mountain councilman serves on task force; tribe builds new center

Ute Mountain Tribal Councilman Selwyn Whiteskunk has been appointed to serve on the

This year, Gov. Jared Polis directed the Colorado Department of Human Services to spearhead the task force, composed of 25 members. Its mission is to evaluate and set the road map to improve the state’s behavioral health system.

A blueprint of improvements is expected by June 2020, and recommendations are anticipated to be implemented shortly after.

“More behavioral health services and counselors are needed for Colorado tribes and for rural areas in general,” Whiteskunk said. “More funding needs to filter down to the Western Slope, and I’ll be advocating for that.”

To improve services, the tribe is building an outpatient behavioral health center in Towaoc on the corner of Mike Wash Road and Spruce Street. The new center will provide additional counseling and treatment programs, Whiteskunk said.

Ute Mountain Ute Councilwoman DeAnn House greets Colorado Gov. Jared Polis during a visit to Towaoc Tuesday.

Polis visited the construction site Tuesday and met with tribal leaders.

The state task force includes three subcommittees to evaluate specific needs. The State Safety Net subcommittee will offer a roadmap to ensure every Coloradan, regardless of ability to pay or disability, can obtain adequate service. Another subcommittee will focus on providing behavioral services to children. The third Long-Term Competency subcommittee will develop a plan for individuals in the criminal justice system who have been found incompetent to proceed. Finding future solutions to increase community interventions for mental health sufferers is also a goal.

The Behavioral Health Task Force wants to hear from the public about their journey within the Behavioral Health system and the challenges they have faced. Suggestions are being sought to improve the system, and what programs are successful and effective.

At least one public testimony opportunity will be provided each month through June 2020.

The next chance to testify is at the Aug. 28 meeting from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Castle Rock. The meetings are broadcast by webinar. Members of the public are invited to call in, watch by video, as well as attend in person. Visit bit.ly/2P7ZdQl for more information on how to comment.


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