The Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) appreciates and values the rich diversity that exists among Colorado’s five million residents and recognizes Colorado’s diverse population includes unique behavioral health needs among individuals. Behavioral Health agencies statewide have experienced challenges in attempting to provide effective, culturally competent services to all. Similarly, clients have struggled with finding culturally competent behavioral health services to effectively meet their needs. The behavioral health needs of Colorado residents cannot be denied, as “One out of five people in Colorado needs mental health services each year, yet fewer than a third of them receive care. The lack of care resulted in suicide, lost productivity and homelessness, among other costs, for many of the 600,000 Coloradans who went untreated in 2000…. Significant disparities exist in access to mental health care for racial, ethnic and sexual minority groups, for people with disabilities, and for people living in rural areas of the state.” – The Status of Mental Health Care in Colorado, The Colorado Trust. Barriers involving community outreach, linguistics, a lack of training opportunities and a lack of resources have negatively impacted service delivery, client retention and treatment outcomes for those individuals struggling to connect to culturally responsive agencies and treatment providers.
In response to the present challenges identified, OBH seeks to improve culturally competent behavioral health care; develop stronger links between clients and services, more accurately and effectively meet client needs and improve client outcomes through provider support, to include development of resources, trainings and technical assistance.