DDPHE Blog: May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Published on April 29, 2024

Every May, the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) celebrates Mental Health Awareness Month. We use this annual observance to raise awareness around mental health by providing support, fighting stigma, and education. The 2023 DDPHE Behavioral Health Needs Assessment found that for many Denver residents, accessing mental health services can be difficult. Findings indicated 41% of people who sought behavioral health services in the past 12 months had not obtained any type of service yet.  

Read on to learn about some of the ways the DDPHE Community and Behavioral Health (CBH) Division is addressing mental health issues in our Denver community.

Providing Support 

The Wellness Winnie is Denver’s mobile unit offering support, assistance, and resources to those in need, where they are. Each week, Wellness Winnie, a “fun size” RV, has a scheduled travel route through Denver for the purpose of providing behavioral health and support services. The Wellness Winnie exists to empower all people in Denver to live their healthiest life and to increase equitable access to resources, helping the community to thrive.

The Wellness Winnie menu of services includes:

  • Peer Support and Navigation
  • Informal classes and presentations
  • Needle (used syringe or needle) disposal
  • Active referral to services, such as: medical, legal, social services
  • Distribution of items, such as: socks, gloves, toiletries, etc.
  • Rehydration and cooling from the heat
  • Warming from the cold 
  • Narcan/Naloxone distribution

The Wellness Winnie makes a big difference for many people in the Denver community. But perhaps the most valuable and life changing is the relationships built on trust and compassion. Watch our video to learn how Chrissy was able to take control of her life and is on the verge of beginning an exciting new career.

Suicide Prevention

Deaths by suicide are increasing in the City and County of Denver, as well as across the state and nation. We have to start talking about suicide to bring it out of the darkness and into the light, where we can address it head on. As a community, we have to break the stigma around mental health challenges and normalize the need for care. Learn more about the risk factors and warning signs of suicide as well as resources on our Suicide Prevention website.

Overdose Prevention

Substance use can have a profound impact on mental health. Substance misuse and overdose are an increasing community health concern across the city of Denver. Fatal and non-fatal overdoses are preventable. Harm reduction strategies to prevent overdoses vary a bit by the specific type of drug, and, generally, include using less, testing your drugs, using a less risky method of administration, and not using alone.

Naloxone is a medication that reverses opioid overdoses by blocking opioid receptors, which prevents opioids from binding to them. It will have no impact if an overdose is not opioid related.

Naloxone is available in the form of a nasal spray, as well as an intramuscular injectable form. DDPHE distributes the intranasal spray naloxone under the brand name Narcan. There are no negative side effects of using Naloxone and no potential for misuse or dependence. However, naloxone may put a person dependent on opioids into withdrawal, which can be a very painful and uncomfortable experience.

Where to get Naloxone

Use the form on our website to request Naloxone from DDPHE. DDPHE is only able to fulfill requests from residents of the City and County of Denver. If you live outside of Denver, several pharmacies also distribute Naloxone. Visit www.stoptheclockcolorado.org to explore an interactive map of locations where Naloxone can be obtained.

Crisis Services

If you are, or someone you know is, in need of confidential and immediate mental health, substance use, or emotional help, please visit Colorado Crisis Services online, call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text "TALK" to 38255 to be connected to a crisis counselor or trained professional with a master's or doctoral degree. Interpretation services are available for non-English speakers. Help and hope are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. If you are or someone you know is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please call 9-1-1.


The DenverStrong program is designed to educate and empower the Denver community around behavioral health issues. By providing trainings, consultation, and community collaboration, connects community organizations and city agencies with trainings grounded in evidence-based practices and free of charge. Learn more about the trainings DenverStrong offers online.

Denver ReCAST

Denver ReCAST partners six city agencies with community-based organizations (CBOs) in a coordinated effort to assist high-risk youth and families and promote resiliency and equity among communities that have faced the burden of violence/trauma. This program uses a behavioral health lens to address the underlying issues that drive violence/trauma. Learn more on the DenverReCAST website.

ARPA Behavioral Health Services Grants

The DDPHE CBH division is using American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds, provided by the federal government to address issues related to the COVID crisis, to contract with over 15 CBOs. These CBOs will bring needed behavioral health services to vulnerable populations in Denver.

We Got This! Program

DDPHE is addressing mental health directly in local schools with the We Got This! program. In 2023, the DDPHE hosted its second mental health summit for youth, providing a platform for teens and young adults to speak honestly and frankly about mental health and wellness. Additionally, the team works in DPS schools to provide smaller mental health awareness events. To date, We Got This! has hosted five school seminars in local high school and middle schools with over 830 participants ranging from 14 to 19 years old.

Have more questions?

The DDPHE CBH division empowers Denver’s communities to live better, longer by informing, educating, and empowering the community to live a healthy lifestyle, to reduce chronic disease through awareness and prevention programs, and to implement population-based strategies that address social determinants of health. CBH also works to reduce barriers to accessing mental and physical health care. CBH is committed to creating and advocating for equal opportunities for all to grow, develop, and live life to its fullest potential. Learn more about the CPH team and find resources on their website.