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Informing Policy. Advancing Health.

A Better State of Mind: Focusing on Mental Health

Colorado on Tuesday was awarded a $65 million State Innovation Model (SIM) grant to accelerate transformation of the state’s health care delivery system and how care is paid for. One key element of this work is integration of behavioral health with primary care. This builds on work across Colorado to improve health and the experience of care, as well as reduce cost, by using an integrated approach. 

The focus on behavioral health – a broad term including mental health, substance use, and other behaviors that affect health such as diet and exercise – comes from the recognition that addressing these needs is critical for overall health. 

Data from the 2013 Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS) confirms this, and provides insight into the mental health needs of Coloradans. For the first time, CHAS questions asked about mental health status, use of mental health care and barriers to getting needed care. Key findings are summarized in a new brief: Mental Health: A Crucial Piece of the Health Care Puzzle.

Many Coloradans face mental health challenges. One of four experienced at least one day in the past month when their mental health was not good. One of 10 experience poor mental health, defined as eight or more days in the past month when their mental health was not good. The problem is prevalent regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity. People with lower incomes are more likely to experience poor mental health. 

There is a clear relationship between mental wellness and physical health. Of Coloradans reporting good mental health, 90 percent also reported good physical health. Of those reporting poor mental health, just over half reported good physical health. 

More details on these key findings are in the brief released today. For a deeper dive, you can download more CHAS data on Coloradans’ mental health and access to mental health services here

Increasing access to mental health services is challenging. Colorado’s SIM grant, combined with other efforts to change policy and societal stigma, aims to better meet the behavioral health needs of Coloradans, improving overall health in the process. Data from the 2015 CHAS survey, which will be available next summer, will help track progress.