In Good Health

The Colorado Health Foundation’s blog is designed to share perspectives, personal stories and what we are learning in our efforts to ensure that, across Colorado, each of us can say: “We have all we need to live healthy lives.”

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A couple days ago, we published our first reflections blog post about this year’s Colorado Health Symposium. That post focused on the affirmations we walked away with as an organization. In this post, we want to share what we learned from the same event.

This year’s conference focused on how to achieve equity by breaking down barriers that negatively impact individuals and families experiencing behavioral health and substance use challenges. And, we learned a lot about what it means to cover such a vast and emotional issue in the span of a few days.

Here are a few of those key takeaways:

“Behavioral health” as a conference topic is too big for a single event.

While we had

In Colorado today, we know that far too many individuals, families and communities are facing behavioral health issues that are often invisible and unspoken due to geographic, cultural, gender and racial barriers.   

Our state is in the throes of a behavioral health crisis. Suicide rates are rising and addiction is rampant in urban, rural and frontier communities.

Across Colorado, we hear and see that having comprehensive and affordable behavioral health services in reach is a pressing need that many go without – from our youngest to oldest residents. And, despite how palpable and unrelenting this issue is, the stigma persists.

The data paint a staggering picture. According to Mental Health America, Colorado ranks 43rd in the nation for mental

The image of a crying 2-year-old girl whose mother is being searched and detained near the Mexican border in Texas has become an iconic symbol of family separation that far too many have seen on repeat this week.

The gut-wrenching sounds of children crying while being separated from their migrant parents has been cast across the media and directly to our ears through television, computers and our phones and tablets. In one recording, you can audibly hear children gasping for air, as they sob and scream for their parents in Spanish. It broke my heart to hear that. 

The health of a child is critically shaped through the nurturing experience of trusted adults. Young children in particular need a stable,

In early June, the Foundation’s Board of Directors hit the road on three separate tours of Colorado. Afterward, President and CEO Karen McNeil-Miller interviewed the Foundation’s Board Chair Jerome Davis, regional vice president of Xcel Energy, on his perspectives and those of the full Board.

Karen: So, Jerome: you and the rest of the Board were divided up into three groups, put on buses and sent out across our beautiful state. Why? We wanted to give you a sampler of the places we’re working in, to give you a sense of the urban/rural divide and show you some grassroots organizations and bigger systems outside of Denver. Talk to me about the “so what?” of what you and the others