2020 behavioral health needs assessment

The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS), Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) partnered with Health Management Associates, Inc. (HMA) to conduct a statewide behavioral health needs assessment. 

The purpose of the assessment is to be responsive to the requirements of the state’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) block grants and to inform a long-term strategic plan for addressing the current and projected behavioral health needs of Coloradans. 

The goal of the assessment was to identify mental health and substance use prevention and treatment needs for Coloradans across the state. All populations were included regardless of insurance type, location and level of need. The needs assessment focused on behavioral health disparities and prioritized 12 sub-populations with disparities to understand root causes of their disparities and solutions. Additionally, regional variation in behavioral health need and location of services was a central part of the analysis. 

Watch the recording of the Needs Assessment Townhall hosted in partnership with HMA.


Colorado's behavioral health system is in the process of transformation. Click to learn more.

Colorado's behavioral health system is in the process of transformation. The Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) is a new cabinet-level agency, housed within the Department of Human Services, designed to be the single entity responsible for driving coordination and collaboration across state agencies to address behavioral health needs. Many behavioral health programs such as crisis services, substance use treatment, and care coordination are now administered by the BHA.

Colorado's two Mental Health Hospitals and the Forensic Services division will remain within the Office of Civil and Forensic Mental Health.

Learn more about the BHA  Find behavioral health help



The snapshot provides a high-level overview of the needs assessment and key findings.

Main summary

The Main Summary is the main document for the needs assessment and summarizes the entire study.

  • Methodology: Detail on the approach and methodology used for the assessment.
  • Appendix A: Provides the in-depth review of quantitative data and findings including some data not covered in the main summary.
  • Appendix B and C: A list of the previous reports on Colorado’s behavioral health system and detail on how services within the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration Locator Data were categorized for analysis.
State of the State

The State of the State reviews relevant statistics on behavioral health need in Colorado and detailed information on the strengths and challenges of the Colorado behavioral health system reviewed in the main summary.

Priority populations

The Priority Populations document provides an overview of priority populations. For each identified sub-population, there is an in-depth analysis of behavioral health prevalence, specific needs and barriers to care with special attention to the root cause of the disparity. For each sub-population, ideas to improve care are offered including evidence-based practices and innovations within Colorado and nationally. Priority populations include:

Regional profiles

Variation in regional behavioral health need is outlined in seven regional profiles with key indicators outlined by region. 

Map of regions