Growing demand for intensive mental-health treatment in the state and a decline in the supply of psychiatric beds have put added pressure on emergency rooms. In cases when patients pose a danger to themselves or others, ERs become the default holding place.
Danielle Nordeen drives a 16-year-old Toyota Camry that doesn’t handle well on snowy mountain passes. In January, Nordeen had to make the drive from her home in Grand Junction to Pueblo often enough that she developed a strategy: Find a semi with its hazard lights on and follow it closely, prompting the other drivers to direct their wrath toward the trucker rather than her.
People with mental illnesses in Colorado are more than five times as likely to be housed in jails or in prisons than in hospital psychiatric beds. Colorado’s sheriffs say county jails are overwhelmed with inmates who need hospitalization or treatment for their mental health problems – not incarceration.
It isn't too late to become involved in the broad statewide discussion on mental illness this weekend, with groups gathering in four cities to discuss means of eradicating stigma and removing barriers to treatment.