The Report on Mental Health Disparities in Colorado was commissioned by The Colorado Trust to inform its ongoing grantmaking activities related to advancing quality mental health care for the people of Colorado. It expands upon a short draft Policy Brief on Mental Health Disparities in Colorado that was used to inform dialogue at the Colorado Mental Health Disparities Summit (Summit) on October 13, 2006. Approximately 125 participants attended the Summit including legislators; mental health centers and other providers; federal, state and local government; universities; foundations and community stakeholders. The Summit’s purpose was:
This report expands upon the policy recommendations identified in the Policy Brief and incorporates additional information from the literature review on mental health disparities, dialogues and stories from community members, input from an advisory group of community mental health leaders (see listing of Authors and Advisory Committee) and the complete recommendations from the Summit (see Data and Research Recommendations). The purpose of this report is to expand upon the Policy Brief and to provide a framework for how to get meaningful help within the existing system by including culturally-traditional and culturally-specific treatments within the mainstream infrastructure.
- To share research and community perspectives on what communities of color are doing well, their needs and the enhancements needed to support sustainability for culturally-traditional,-specific and mainstream providers to better meet the diverse mental health needs of Colorado’s communities; and
- To bring together diverse communities, policymakers, funders and providers to better understand and address mental health disparities through policy action in Colorado.
The target audience of this report includes service providers, researchers, systems representatives, policymakers, funders and community members. It incorporates recommendations prioritized at the Summit and information identified in the research to provide guidance and areas for action for these different audiences to address mental health disparities within Colorado.
Ongoing leadership at the state and community levels is needed to ensure that all Coloradans have access to culturally-appropriate services to address their mental health needs. Policymakers in all branches of government, along with cultural and nonprofit organizations, statewide and regional groups, mainstream and culturally-traditional and specific providers, and other community leaders and key stakeholders are needed to provide direction and support to address mental health disparities in Colorado. Similarly, communities across Colorado need to work together with one voice to seek solutions that reflect their cultural diversity, and not impose a ‘one size fits all’ solution.