In the Spotlight

The Center for Mental Health

The year 2014 marks a significant milestone for the Center for Mental Health. It was in 1964 that a group of individuals, with a vision to provide mental health services in rural western Colorado, came together to form the beginnings of Midwestern Colorado Mental Health Center. It was one of the first mental health clinics in a rural setting to become a Community Mental Health Center in the entire U.S. Dr. Lynn Hopple flew his own plane to Montrose from Denver bringing with him other service providers three days per month to bring mental health services to the Western Slope.

In 1996, the Center adopted the doing business name “The Center for Mental Health” which is how we are known in our communities today.

From our humble beginnings and an initial $4,000 annual budget, the Center has grown to 110 staff members providing services through seven offices and nine outreach locations to more than 6,200 people each year with a budget of well over $8 million. In addition, the Center offers information resources and peer based services at no cost to nearly 13,000 people each year. As you can see, the impact we have, not only with the healthcare of the community but also on the economy of the region, is significant.

With the mission “to provide opportunities for growth and change that promote health and well-being in our communities”, we seek chances to collaborate with community partners and to add programs and services with a focus on mental wellness, mental health integration, and recovery from substance abuse.

We take every opportunity to capitalize on advances in technology to help serve the 10,000 square miles that make up our service territory. For example, we use telepsychiatry to connect psychiatrists to clients in remote locations; we use televideo to complete crisis evaluations on individuals presenting with a mental health crisis in the middle of the night and in remote locations; we use Patient Tools to screen for behavioral health concerns in integrated settings in primary care and in jails; and we use an electronic medical record for all client records. We meet monthly together from our remote locations via televideo.

The Center for Mental Health offers a vital safety net to some of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society – Medicaid beneficiaries, the uninsured, the indigent, children in foster care, older adults, and those in our criminal and juvenile justice systems. We serve anyone who needs us and we offer a sliding fee scale to all.

As we reach our 50th birthday, we have some exciting things happening at the Center and in our industry. As a non-profit tasked with serving the total behavioral health needs of Medicaid beneficiaries, we are at the mercy of state and federal budget cuts. However, over the past year we have seen legislation which has the potential to be beneficial and will undoubtedly change the way we do business. For the first time, mental health benefits are on par with physical health benefits for all insurance coverage. With nearly one in four needing some kind of behavioral health services in their life time, this is good news.