The BHA Behavioral Health Administration was established in 2022 through House Bill 22-178 as Colorado legislators, health officials and others continue to respond to the growing mental health crisis. The BHA is now part of the state government’s Department of Health Services.
BHA is the state government responsible for ensuring that all people in Colorado have access to quality mental health and substance use disorder services, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay. BHA helps community groups and government agencies come together to design a behavioral health system for everyone in Colorado that is easy to use and provides high-quality care that considers the whole person and their needs.
BHA impacts the behavioral health system by improving access and quality of affordable care; reduces stigma so Coloradans feel confident and comfortable seeking support and/or treatment for mental health and substance use disorders; provides access to approach to free and confidential care; partnering with diverse community groups and providers to expand services; recruiting and retaining a workforce to support the people of Coloradans.
According to the BHA website, BHA is responsible for:
• Lead and develop the national vision and strategy for child, adolescent and adult behavioral health.
• Establish a behavioral health safety net system across the state that must include services for children, youth and adults.
• Developing a statewide care coordination infrastructure
• Oversee behavioral health providers across the state and ensure those providers are providing high-quality care.
• Work with providers and organizations to ensure a range of innovative services are available at the right time and place for all Coloradans to get the care they need.
• Expand services and reach historically underserved areas and populations.
With multiple bills being considered for the 2024 legislative session at the state Capitol, Colorado Politburo spoke with BHA to discuss ongoing plans and needs.
Editor’s note: Some answers have been edited for clarity and grammar.
Colorado Politics: How much does it cost annually to administer the I Matter program (the subject of Senate Bill 24-001)?
Behavioral Health Administration: The program’s budget for fiscal year 2023-24 is $5 million, with a marketing/outreach budget of $1 million.
CP: How many children have been helped since I Matter was implemented?
salicylic acid: As of December 2023, 10,899 youth have been served.
CP: How important is it to continue the I Matter program?
salicylic acid: We know that both the cost of treatment and the process of entering treatment can be barriers to youth participating in treatment. I Matter offers free, high-quality therapy sessions that are easy to access. The registration process is simple – teens and their parents can visit IMatterColorado.org to take a confidential online survey about their mental health and schedule treatment sessions, no diagnosis required.
CP: What obstacles has the department encountered in implementing the I Matter program?
salicylic acid: Some of the initial hurdles are finding a behavioral health provider, identifying the right online care platform, and finding enough clinicians to do the work.
CP: What other mental health programs does BHA administer?
salicylic acid: BHA funds and/or manages contracts for mental health programs including:
• 988: The 988 Colorado Mental Health and Substance Abuse Helpline provides 24/7 free, confidential support via phone, text, or chat support. When people are experiencing emotional distress or facing mental, behavioral health or substance abuse challenges, they can contact trained 988 care specialists for support. BHA manages and oversees contracts with Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners to perform 988 functions.
• own way: Recognizing that we all struggle with well-being, OwnPath provides a resource for individuals to start their own path to wellness, no matter where they are in their journey. The searchable online directory allows people in Colorado to find behavioral health providers licensed by the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) and search for specific services or use guided searches to identify providers or resources that best meet their needs. You can narrow your search based on location, days in operation, language support, payment types accepted, and more. OwnPath is created and managed by BHA.
• health Center: BHA provides funding to community mental health centers to purchase and provide mental health services to the uninsured population.