OPINION: Mental Health Challenge
Ordinance 301 Would Raise $45M Per Year For Services
By state Rep. Leslie Herod
Exclusive to the GPHN
Denver is a great place to live, work and play. In fact, Denver consistently ranks among the top cities in the country in a number of different categories. We have easy access to the mountains and a vibrant culture across the city.
Beneath the surface, however, is a growing problem. Mental health of Denverites has suffered and the stigma surrounding the topic makes it difficult to discuss. Chances are that you have someone close to you suffering from a mental health challenge in some form.
In 2017, suicide took the lives of more youth ages 10-24 than any other single cause. In fact, 13 percent of students at Denver Public Schools have reported that they have seriously considered suicide. And that’s just those who reported it. Among all age groups, Denver’s suicide rate remains at the top among major U.S. cities.
The recent tragic suicide of a 9-year-old boy in Denver once again brought this issue out of the shadows. It should be obvious by now that we aren’t doing enough to save lives.
Mental health issues don’t always result in suicide, but they are damaging and costly in other ways. They are often tied closely to addiction, including being a driving force in the current opioid crisis. There are more than three opioid overdoses every day in Denver, and heroin use has skyrocketed by 933 percent since 2002.
That’s why the Caring 4 Denver mental health and addiction ballot initiative is so critical. This November, Denver voters will have the unique opportunity to pass a ballot measure that will save lives. By dedicating $45 million per year to increase access to mental health and addiction prevention, treatment and recovery services, Denver will be taking the single biggest step it has ever taken to address this crisis.
Imagine a Denver where there is a trained mental health professional in every school. Where we care about kids’ mental health as much as we do about their math scores.
Imagine a Denver where the jail isn’t the largest provider of mental health and addiction services. Where police have a viable option of where to bring non-violent people in the midst of a mental health crisis.
Imagine a Denver that tackles the underlying cause of so many of other issues, including homelessness. Where we provide supportive housing to people trying to transition back into society rather than dumping them back on the street the moment they are stabilized.
All of this is possible and these are just a few of the things that the Caring 4 Denver mental health and addiction ballot measure can do for our great city.
When you get your ballot in October, please go all the way to the bottom and find Initiated Ordinance 301. Vote yes help our friends, family members and neighbors live healthier lives.
Colorado State Rep. Leslie Herod represents District 8, which includes Park Hill. She is one of the spearheaders of Caring 4 Denver. More information can be found at Caring4Denver.com