Behavioral Health Designation and Licensing

Program Designation and Licensing for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment

The Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) is responsible for licensing substance use disorder treatment programs and designating mental health treatment programs that receive public funding. The substance use disorder treatment license identifies the level of intensity of the services provided, including residential, outpatient or withdrawal management (detox), and any specialized populations an agency serves. Specialized populations include individuals referred for treatment following a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) conviction, individuals required through their involvement in the criminal justice system to complete treatment as a part of a court sentence, or mothers receiving treatment tailored to meet their needs. Intensity of service ranges from once per week outpatient treatment all the way to residential services.

The Office of Behavioral Health oversees the mental health programs that provide mental health services to children, adolescents and/or adults. Community mental health centers and community mental health clinics require a facility license from the Colorado Department of Public Health and designation (program approval) from the Office of Behavioral Health.  OBH designation is based on state rules and regulations from the Code of Colorado Regulations  and is required to receive OBH funding to provide mental health treatment.

A facility that places individuals on involuntary holds or into involuntary treatment for mental health must be designated by the Office of Behavioral Health to provide services as specified under 27-65 C.R.S., Care and Treatment of Persons with Mental Health Disorders.  This process may also be called a “72-hour hold”, an “M-1 hold” a “mental health hold.”  These agencies must verify that they are in compliance with the conditions set forth in statute, and that they have proper clinical and infrastructure support to protect the rights of individuals whose mental health disorders render them a danger to themselves or others.

Designated Mental Health Programs may Include: Community mental health centers, community mental health clinics, and residential child care facilities.
Designated Mental Health Programs do NOT include: Hospital emergency rooms, private psychologists or psychiatrist offices (outpatient), primary care offices that provide mental health services, wellness or mindfulness programs, prisons, or jails.
Programs designated under 27-65 may include: Psychiatric units within hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, crisis stabilization units, acute treatment units and psychiatric residential treatment facilities.
Programs designated under 27-65 do NOT include: Community mental health clinics, outpatient substance use disorder programs, hospital emergency rooms, private psychologists or psychiatrist offices (outpatient), primary care offices that provide mental health services, wellness or mindfulness programs, prisons, or jails.
Licensed Substance Use Treatment Programs may Include: Outpatient counseling, residential treatment, withdrawal management (“detox”) programs, intensive outpatient (IOP)services, residential programs for pregnant women, and opioid treatment programs that provide methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone.
Licensed Substance Use Treatment Programs do NOT Include: Private substance use treatment programs that do not accept public funding including outpatient and residential programs, sober living homes, recovery services, non-clinical groups such as AA, sports or physical therapy programs for individuals in recovery.


Frequently Asked Questions about Licensing and Designation through the Office of Behavioral Health (OBH)

Print/View .PDF