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New Behavioral Health Framework to Promote Equity in Care System

Road To Wellness works to engage everyone to remove barriers, improve systems, and advocate for change

Denver - The City and County of Denver and the Denver Health and Hospital Authority today released a landmark strategic framework designed to further improve outcomes for people challenged by behavioral health disorders. Road To Wellness: A Strategic Framework to Improve Behavioral Health in Denver will provide a roadmap for stakeholders in the behavioral health community to help navigate towards shared objectives around building a healthy community.

“Every person, family and community is touched by these behavioral health challenges, that’s why it must be a priority for our city and stakeholders,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “We can end the stigma and get people the treatment they need, and it starts with all efforts focusing on the same shared goals. In this framework, there’s a role for everyone.”

While Denver has a large system of support services to assist residents and address mental health crises, this new framework will improve existing services, systems, and responses to ensure they provide consistent and comprehensive care. Through the goals described in the framework, Road To Wellness provides focus and definition to guide the efforts of individuals and entities working in the behavioral health space.

The Road To Wellness strategic framework lays out steps to further improve behavioral health outcomes for any and all Denver residents who suffer from behavioral health disorders. The framework advocates for systems and communities where people can be healthy, articulating five “interconnected and overlapping” goals to ensure that:

  • Our communities promote well-being;
  • When we seek care, we get the care we need;
  • We have access to compassionate, integrated, coordinated care;
  • We act early and manage crises in the appropriate setting; and
  • We have the data to understand and improve behavioral health.

Work on Road To Wellness began in October 2018 when Mayor Hancock brought together a steering committee tasked with developing a framework. More than 100 individuals and 50 organizations participated in the process, including people who have experienced behavioral health challenges, homeless service providers, librarians, educators, and first responders.

Convened by Robert McDonald, Executive Director of Denver Public Health & Environment and the Public Health Administrator for the city, and Robin Wittenstein, Chief Executive Offer for Denver Health, the steering committee worked to better understand the current state of behavioral health services in Denver, identify gaps, examine best practices, and provide recommendations.

“Mental health is fundamental to personal well-being, family, and interpersonal relationships, and is essential to our ability to contribute to community and society,” said McDonald. “We must ensure that everyone in Denver who needs mental health support has true access to it.”

“There can be no ‘wrong door’ for people in need of help,” Dr. Wittenstein said. “The Road to Wellness is the framework to bring together the resources of our entire community.”

Behavior health challenges impact us all, either directly or indirectly through family, friends, or coworkers. Despite the prevalence of behavioral health disorders among people in our community, stigma and misunderstanding of the issues are widespread. The underlying motivation for creating a framework for behavioral health in Denver is an overwhelming desire to provide support, education, and advocacy to the community and ensure people get the care they need.