Bipartisan Behavioral Health Disaster Response Advances

Bill would establish the Community Behavioral Health Disaster Program to support Coloradans after major disasters and emergencies 

DENVER, CO– The House Committee on Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services today passed Representative Cutter’s bipartisan bill to support the work of behavioral health organizations responding to community behavioral health needs in the wake of an emergency or disaster. The bill passed by a vote of 11-2. 

“There is a clear need for a more holistic response to disasters like wildfires, pandemics, floods, and even mass shootings,” said Rep. Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County. “This bill will support the great work of our state’s behavioral health organizations striving to meet the needs of communities left reeling in the wake of a disaster or an emergency. With many community mental health centers already operating programs to help Coloradans deal with the effects of COVID-19, today we’re seizing a unique opportunity to help them continue their important work and build resiliency.”

HB21-1281, also sponsored by Representative Perry Will, creates the Community Behavioral Health Disaster Preparedness and Response Program in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The program is intended to enhance, support, and formalize behavioral health disaster preparedness and response activities of community behavioral health organizations. 

Community mental health centers are already operating a number of programs that would fall within the scope of this fund, especially as they relate to COVID-19, but funding for them is fragmented and much of the federal funding will soon be withdrawn.