Colorado receives $5 million to enhance mental health services for homeless youth

DENVER (April 9, 2019) — The Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) has been awarded the Healthy Transitions: Improving Life Trajectories for Youth and Young Adults with Serious Mental Illness grant totaling $5 million over five years. The project is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

With this funding, OBH will contract with Urban Peak in Denver and in Colorado Springs to increase access to treatment and support services for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness who have a serious mental disorder. Urban Peak is the largest provider of services for homeless youth in the SAMHSA region that includes Colorado and was chosen for the grant through a state request for application process.

“OBH is excited to work with both Urban Peak locations to expand outreach, engage youth where they are and get them the services they need to reach long-term success,” said Robert Werthwein, Director of the Office of Behavioral Health.

Urban Peak will subcontract with area mental health providers to increase access to clinically, developmentally, culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health interventions for youth ages 16-25 experiencing homelessness. The grant includes support for a youth coordinator at OBH with mental health lived experience to help direct the services and outreach.

Three major goals will drive the work over the next five years:

  1. Identify and engage homeless transition-age youth (ages 16-25) suffering from a serious mental disorder and/or co-occurring intellectual developmental disability (IDD) through coordinated outreach.
  2. Promote cross-agency collaboration to increase the number of transition-age youth accessing mental health treatment.
  3. Connect homeless transition-age youth to public benefits, employment and social support and recovery services.

“This grant will be transformational for homeless youth in Colorado,” said Christina Carlson, CEO of Urban Peak. “Providing on-site behavioral health services will allow us to meet the needs of the youth in the moment and build upon Urban Peak’s great work at both our Denver and Colorado Springs locations."