Community collaboratives enhance patient health, access

By Jackie Laundon, SIM health systems specialist


One of the four SIM pillars is to improve population health across Colorado. Groups are creating a formal partnership between community organizations, resident groups and/or public entities to meet behavioral health goals. These collaboratives gather assets and resources to increase access to behavioral health prevention services and care, which improves patient outcomes.

The Denver Foundation is supporting 40 projects that increase access to behavioral health treatment and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) supports two behavioral health transformation collaboratives (BHTCs) focused on behavioral health prevention and access to patient screening. The two BHTCs supported by CDPHE are Aurora Mental Health Center and the Health District of Northern Larimer County. Goals of the prevention-focused funding include:

  • Behavioral health outreach and education focused on behavioral health wellness and prevention
  • Stigma-reduction programs and campaigns
  • Community-based training and resources focused on behavioral health prevention
  • Improved coordination of systems that improve behavioral health screening and referral with a focus on assessment of community-based resources and gaps

Aurora Mental Health Center and the Health District of Northern Larimer are collaborating with local school districts to better serve students with behavioral health education, such as Mental Health First Aid, improved screening and referral protocols to increase coordination of treatment between schools, primary care providers and behavioral health providers. Both BHTCs are engaging with school staff and students’ families. Recent successes include:

  • Post-survey results show positive change of attitudes, knowledge and a reduced likelihood of adopting negative health behaviors related to smoking and drinking.
  • A total of 210 completed Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) screenings of students in the Aurora school district.
  • Increased participation in Poudre School district to 15 schools (33% of the district) by the end of the third quarter of the first grant year.
  • A total of 823 young patients (age 0-24) have been referred to the Child, Adolescent and Young Adult Connections (CAYAC) team for treatment. The goal for the first year was 300 referrals. This referral surpasses the goal by 174% by the end of the third quarter.