By: Aubrey Boggs, Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator
Under current Colorado statute, a person experiencing a mental health crisis can be legally held in a jail without committing a crime. This is incredibly dangerous for a person experiencing a crisis. For individuals in a mental health crisis, being held in jail by law enforcement is traumatic and would likely exacerbate the crisis symptoms. Colorado needs a crisis system that treats people with respect and offers them real help, not a system which throws people in jails because they “don’t have space” at the appropriate facilities. Our current system allows for expensive and unnecessary law enforcement involvement in a mental health crisis, instead of using community resources and appropriate care to support individuals experiencing a crisis and encouraging them to seek recovery.
Senate Bill 207 would end the use of jails for individuals on an involuntary mental health hold and create a robust and expansive system of crisis response. From enabling mobile crisis units to respond within two hours, which is particularly an issue in rural areas, to encouraging community based engagement from facilities offering crisis services, this bill is good for Colorado. For many individuals, a crisis may be the first time they are evaluated for mental health conditions, considering the stigma and discrimination people with mental health conditions often face. A system that supports people, supports Colorado as a whole.
Call, write, and visit your Colorado legislators to tell them to support this bill!
Find your legislators here: http://leg.colorado.gov/find-my-legislator
Senate Bill 207 will be heard in the Senate Judiciary committee on March 22 at 1:30 pm. If you or someone you know is interested in testifying for this bill please contact Aubrey Boggs, Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator for the Colorado Mental Wellness Network, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (720)842-9222.