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News brief with The Colorado Sun: Mental health care expands, plus invasive mussels at a state park

Cluster of brown zebra mussels on a wet, blue background
D. Jude
University of Michigan and NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Laboratory via Flickr
A cluster of zebra mussels, which are considered an invasive species in the U.S. Highline Lake State Park officials have begun to take action after a staff member spotted a zebra mussel in the park last September.

Each week, we talk with our colleagues at the Colorado Sun about the stories they're following. This week, we talk with The Colorado Sun about psychologists who can prescribe medication, and an invasive mussel species that's cropped up in a state park.

Gov. Jared Polis has signed off on legislation that could make a major difference for Coloradans seeking mental health care. House Bill 1071 will allow psychologists in Colorado to write prescriptions, as long as they obtain an additional two-year degree.

“Anyone who has tried to make an appointment for themselves or family members or friends in the mental health field knows how severe the shortage is in Colorado, and how difficult it can be not just to get an appointment but to get an appointment with someone who takes insurance,” Colorado Sun Reporter Michael Booth told KUNC.

To become authorized to prescribe, psychologists will have to take coursework in pharmacology and pass board exams. They'll also have to undergo a one-year preceptorship and two years of physician-supervised prescription.

In other news, Highline Lake State Park is spraying for an invasive mollusk. Officials at the park, which borders Utah, found a zebra mussel on park grounds in September. That's after a 15-year fight to keep the species out of Colorado waters.

Booth said officials told The Sun they felt sick upon hearing the news.

“What it means to them is now years and years of work, trying to make sure that this mussel does not spread in that lake and then spread to other lakes," Booth said. "It means people who use the waterways absolutely working harder to check the bottoms of their boats. It means treating the water with chemicals and other methods in order to try to keep them from spreading.”

Zebra mussels are native to the Caspian and Black seas, but have spread across the U.S. through the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. The mussels spread easily from one body of water to another by clinging to boats and other items that sit on water.

As a reporter and host for KUNC, I follow the local stories of the day while also guiding KUNC listeners through NPR's wider-scope coverage. It's an honor and a privilege to help our audience start their day informed and entertained.
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