Adams County Health Department Releases Landmark Study on State of Behavioral Health Services in County to be Used as Roadmap to Address Gaps in Services

Jennifer Alvarez, Strategic Communications Manager
M: 720.327.2653
E: [email protected]

Adams County Health Department (ACHD) is releasing a landmark report on the status of behavioral health outcomes and availability of services and supports in the county. ACHD received funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Tranche II funds to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the county’s behavioral health services continuum and determine the system’s capacity to provide direct services and supports for people with the greatest needs.

The 2023 Adams County Behavioral Health Services and Supports Assessment: A Blueprint for Action stands as a seminal report, documenting the point-in-time landscape of behavioral health challenges and existing service capacity within our community to address the behavioral health needs of community members and providing tangible recommendations for mitigating and addressing these challenges. This report reflects Adams County’s shared commitment to understanding and addressing the complex behavioral health landscape in our county.

“Through this assessment, we have highlighted concerning trends in poor mental health rates, deaths by suicide, and drug overdoses, as well as disparities and inequities in service availability and access to behavioral health services,” said Dr. Kelly Weidenbach, ACHD Executive Director. “Through this assessment, we have identified practical actions to drive positive change and ultimately improve the well-being of our community members.”

According to the 2023 State of Mental Health in America, nationwide approximately one in five adults reported having experienced a mental illness while nearly one in six youth reported suffering at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

According to the Colorado Health Access Survey (2023), one in five Adams County residents ages five years and older reported having poor mental health for eight or more days over the past month. Over 75,000 residents reported there was a time in the past year when they needed but did not get mental healthcare or counseling services. Mental health challenges are incredibly common, and most people will face a mental health challenge at one point in their lifetime.

Disparities appear in behavioral health outcomes by age, race/ethnicity, income, sexual orientation, gender identity, educational attainment, and geographic area. According to the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (2021), about half of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Asexual, Plus (LGBA+)* high school students in Adams County felt so sad or hopeless they stopped doing some usual activities while about one-third of ‘straight’* students reported these depressed feelings. *Terminology is reflective of the data source.

The report makes the following key recommendations for action within the county to improve behavioral health outcomes.

  1. Increase and expand the behavioral health workforce in the county.
  2. Increase mental health screening and referrals in schools, primary care, and specialty settings. 
  3. Improve and increase care coordination and case management among providers and systems across the county.
  4. Provide public health leadership that engages behavioral health partners to improve access to services and supports and integrates promotion and prevention strategies.

These recommendations build on existing assets and opportunities available at the state and local levels and provide evidence-based solutions to address behavioral health service and support gaps. By promoting and investing in community-initiated care1 trainings; integrating informal supports such as healing circles, limpiezas (or ritual cleansings), art, and storytelling; and implementing recruitment and retention strategies that expand a diverse workforce, Adams County organizations and providers can work together to increase access to behavioral health services and supports for those with the greatest needs.

As part of Adams County ARPA Tranche II funding, ACHD plans to release additional funding to organizations serving Adams County residents to address gaps in services and supports informed by the assessment. ACHD will be releasing $1.7 million in funding for focused investments to address gaps in mental health services for youth. $1.4 million will be released to support community-based, co-responder programs that typically pair law enforcement officers or first responders with behavioral health specialists who can help assess, support, treat, and refer individuals with behavioral health challenges at the scene of an incident or service call. $1.2 million in funds will be utilized to provide community-based training for community-initiated response to mental health crises and to inform an anti-stigma public education campaign that normalizes mental health challenges and encourages residents with poor mental health to seek care. ACHD will release the remaining $2.5 million in funding through a competitive grant-making process for additional projects aimed at expanding access to services, expanding access to informal supports, and increasing care coordination and case management among providers and systems across the county.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please use the contact information at the top of the news release.