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News Series: Untreated

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Credit Joe Mahoney / I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS
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I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS

Untreated: How Ignoring Mental Illness Costs Us All

In May 2014, in conjunction with Rocky Mountain PBS I-News, KUNC presented the series Untreated: How Ignoring Mental Illness Costs Us All. I-News examined the costs of mental illness from both a health and financial standpoint for its online and print audiences. KUNC reporters expanded the range into previously unexplored topics for our radio listeners and online users. KUNC reporters investigated treatment by local law enforcement of people with mental illness, antiquated records laws that may prevent health officials from curbing record high suicide rates. We also asked lawmakers at the state capitol why bills concerning mental illness had fallen by the wayside two years after the Aurora theater and Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

The series was also broadcast by 6 other public and community radio stations around the state.

PART ONE

The High Cost Of Untreated Mental Illness

May was Mental Health month and KUNC, in conjunction with Rocky Mountain PBS I-News, is looking at the costs of mental illness from both a health and financial standpoint. The series, Untreated: How Ignoring Mental Illness Costs Us All, finds the annual cost of mental illness is Colorado is almost equal to the $5.5 billion the state collected in personal taxes in 2013. On a per-person basis that amounts to about $1,000 dollars a year. KUNC’s Erin O’Toole spoke with I-News health reporter Kristen Jones about her findings.

PART TWO

'Significant And Persisting' Mental Illness A Challenge for Larimer, Fort Collins Law Enforcement

I-News health reporter Kristin Jones touched on the intersection of mental illness and the criminal justice system – how jails have become a place of last resort for those who can’t get treatment elsewhere. Now we turn to Larimer County, where voters have rejected two local ballot issues in recent years aimed at funding the county jail. As KUNC’s Grace Hood reports, the community is still striving to help those with significant and persistent mental illnesses.

PART THREE

Health Research Restricted By Colorado’s Records Laws

Mountain west states, including Colorado, have higher suicide rates compared to the rest of the country. Weld County reported 49 suicide deaths in 2013, marking a ten-year high. Some public health professionals say easier access to death certificates could help them more effectively focus suicide prevention campaigns and strategies. KUNC’s Jackie Fortier looks at how a state law may be getting in the way.

PART FOUR

Charting The Course For Colorado Mental Health At The Capitol

Mental health became a top priority for some Colorado lawmakers following the 2012 Aurora theater and Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. The state made a large investment in mental health services during the 2013 session, but there have been setbacks. In 2014, the topic didn’t gain as much traction. In the final part of our series looking at mental health issues in Colorado, KUNC's Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.