State Agencies partner to improve access to mental health care


DENVER - (Nov. 27, 2015) - The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) and the Colorado State Innovation Model (SIM) are partnering to reduce regulatory burden and streamline access to mental health care in Colorado.

DORA’s Division of Professions and Occupations is working to simplify the licensing process so qualified mental health providers can more quickly begin work in the community. SIM is creating a framework so those providers are effectively deployed.

“While DORA works to eliminate regulatory burden to primary mental healthcare providers, the State Innovation Model is enabling the infrastructure to place those providers where they will have the biggest impact,” said Joe Neguse, DORA’s Executive Director. “Both efforts contribute to the pipeline that will help fill the shortage and improve health outcomes in Colorado.”

About 46 percent of adults will experience mental health illness or a substance abuse disorder at some point in their lifetime, according to a 2008 study by researchers from Harvard Medical School and the National Institute of Mental Health.  An estimated 67 percent of adults with a behavioral health disorder do not get behavioral health treatment.  Colorado ranks 19th in the nation for overall mental illness prevalence and access to care.

DORA houses six licensing and regulatory boards for mental health professionals including Addiction Counselors, Licensed Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Psychologists, Registered Psychotherapists and Social Workers.  

“The number of licensed mental health providers in the state directly affects access to care and therefore health outcomes,” said Ronne Hines, Deputy Director for Healthcare in DORA’s Division of Professions and Occupations. “We are taking a fine-tooth comb to our licensing process to ensure processing times do not adversely impact patient safety.”  

The Division’s initiative will focus on three key components of the licensing process:

  1. Improved inter-state mobility through streamlined endorsement
  2. Expedited education equivalency reviews
  3. Enhanced resources and assistance for the state jurisprudence exam

The Division is seeking stakeholder input at a meeting at 1560 Broadway Suite 1250 C from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2015.  Written comments will be accepted as well and may be emailed to: Mental health providers, patients, family members, employers and other members of the public are encouraged to attend and provide comment.   

DORA will work in conjunction with SIM -- an effort that touches nearly every aspect of Colorado’s health system. SIM will set the stage for a sweeping transformation that will help the state accelerate its progress toward the Triple Aim of lower costs, better care and improved population health. 

“Central to transforming the Colorado health system is the integration of mental health and primary care. Our integration efforts will be supported by an improved public health infrastructure. In turn, behavioral health integration will improve population health by addressing behavioral factors that often impede the management of chronic health problems, especially obesity, smoking and diabetes. Improving access to behavioral health services and programs for most Coloradans is the cornerstone of the Colorado transformation effort,” said Vatsala Pathy, SIM Director. 

“We’re working together to accomplish the goal Governor Hickenlooper set to make Colorado the healthiest state. Mental health care is a critical part of that goal and we are thrilled to be supported by the State Innovation Model and other stakeholders contributing to the solution,” said Neguse.


  • Kessler RC, Wang PS. The descriptive epidemiology of commonly occurring mental disorders in the United States.  Annual review of public health, 2008;29;115-29.
  • Kessler RC, Demler O, Frank RG, Olfson M, Pincus HA, Walters EE, et al.  Prevalence and treatment of mental disorders, 1990 to 2003.  The New England journal of medicine.  2005; 352(24); 2515-23.
  • Ranking the States. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2015.


The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit for more information or call 303-894-7855 / toll free 1-800-886-7675
The project described was supported by Funding Opportunity Number CMS-1G1-14-001 from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The contents provided are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HHS or any of its agencies.

Media Contact:
Cory Everett
DORA - Division of Professions and Occupations
p: 303-894-2913