Behavioral health reform

Colorado Behavioral Health Task Force

Colorado Behavioral Health Task Force

Behavioral Health Reform in Colorado: Putting People First

On April 8, 2019, Gov. Jared Polis directed the Colorado Department of Human Services to spearhead Colorado’s Behavioral Health Task Force. The mission of the task force was to evaluate and set the roadmap to improve the current behavioral health system in the state. In September 2020, the task force released its blueprint, as well as several other reports, that outline our vision for reform. 

Today, we are focused on implementing the Task Force's recommendations. Please check this webpage often to learn how we're making behavioral health care accessible, affordable and equitable for all Coloradans. 

What's new?
  • Behavioral Health Administration: One of the key recommendations of the Task Force is to establish a Behavioral Health Administration, or BHA. The BHA will be a single state agency to lead and promote the State’s behavioral health priorities, ensure that behavioral health services respond to the changing needs of communities, monitor state and local outcomes, and evaluate state efforts. We have engaged Health Management Associates (HMA) to develop a plan to establish the Behavioral Health Administration. HMA is a leading independent research and consulting firm with expertise across all domains of publicly funded health care and human services.

  • Services for Co-Occurring Disability & Behavioral Health: A new workgroup will identify actionable recommendations to improve access to behavioral health care for people with disabilities and co-occurring behavioral health conditions, to include marginalized communities. The full workgroup is expected to meet between January and April, with final recommendations expected no later than May 2021. The recommendations will be integrated into the Blueprint comprehensive implementation plan.

  • Develop a Proposal to Expand the Safety Net System: Per SB 19-222, CDHS must work with stakeholders to develop a comprehensive proposal to strengthen and expand the safety net system. The proposal must include what behavioral health services each community must have access to in each region of the state, as well as a funding model to ensure the viability of the safety net system. This proposal must be submitted by July 1, 2021.

  • Get Involved!


Recent Webinar and Meeting Recordings
Upcoming Meetings and Meeting Resources
Meeting Calendar
Co-Occurring Disabilities and Behavioral Health Working Group

Except for January, all meetings will occur each month on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month from 9-10:30 a.m. Register for the meetings here.

  • Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 from 8:30-9 a.m.
  • Friday, Jan. 29, 2021 from 12:30-2 p.m.
  • Feb. 10, 2021
  • Feb. 24, 2021
  • March 10, 2021
  • Mar 24, 2021
  • Apr 14, 2021
  • Apr 28, 2021
Co-Occurring Disabilities and Behavioral Health Steering Committee

Members of the public are invited to listen to Steering Committee meetings. Except for January, all meetings will occur each month on the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 9-10 a.m. Listen to the meetings here

  • Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2-3 p.m.
  • Feb. 3, 2021
  • Feb. 17, 2021
  • March 3, 2021
  • March 17, 2021
  • April 7, 2021
  • April 21, 2021
Meeting Resources
Co-Occurring Disabilities and Behavioral Health Working Group
Co-Occurring Disabilities and Behavioral Health Steering Committee
Coming soon!

Learn more about the Behavioral Health Task Force

About the BHTF
BHTF committees

The task force was comprised of 25 members. There were also three subcommittees with 25 members each. Those subcommittees were:

  • State Safety Net: This subcommittee shall offer a roadmap to ensure that every Coloradan, regardless of acuity level, ability to pay, or co-occurring disabilities, can obtain appropriate behavioral health services in their community. 
  • Children's Behavioral Health: This subcommittee should develop a plan to address how we deliver and manage children’s behavioral health and improve outcomes. 
  • Long-Term Competency: Consistent with a recent consent decree entered into by the Colorado Department of Human Services, this subcommittee should develop a comprehensive plan for individuals in the criminal justice system who have been found incompetent to proceed and future solutions to increase community interventions as a means to reduce demand on forensic solutions to mental health.
  • COVID-19 Special Assignment Committee: In May of 2020, Governor Polis directed the Behavioral Health Task Force to create a new Covid-19 Special Assignment Committee, co-chaired by the Colorado Department of Human Services and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The goal of this special assignment committee is to:
    • Create an interim report that highlights the short- and long-term impacts of COVID-19 on the behavioral health system, including access to behavioral health services, especially for vulnerable and underserved populations. 
    • Evaluate the behavioral health crisis response in Colorado to COVID-19 and provide recommendations for the Behavioral Health Task Force's blueprint on improvements of behavioral health services for response during any potential future crisis. 
BHTF members
Executive Committee

Director Michelle Barnes, Colorado Department of Human Services
Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera
Deputy Manager Barbara Drake, Douglas County
Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
Director Kim Bimestefer, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing
Commissioner Michael Conway, Division of Insurance

Task Force members:

Vincent Atchity, Mental Health Colorado

Daniel Darting, Signal Behavioral Health Network
Greenwood Village

Raul De Villegas-Decker, RDV Executive Consulting
Grand Junction

Jill Derrieux, Mesa Youth Services, Inc. dba Mesa County Partners
Grand Junction

Rebecca Ela, Delta County Memorial Hospital

C. Neill Epperson, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Michael Fields, Colorado Rising Action

Rana Gonzales, WINS
Manitou Springs

Deidre Johnson, Center for African American Health

Tracy Kraft-Tharp, General Assembly

Lois Landgraf, General Assembly

Jennifer Lynn Fanning, Grand County Rural Health Network
Hot Sulphur Springs

Glenn Most, SCL Health
Wheat Ridge

Cory Notestine, Colorado Springs School District 1
Colorado Springs

Patricia Oliver, Oliver Behavioral Consultants

Byron Pelton, Commissioner Logan County

Valerie Schlecht, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition

Meg Taylor, Rocky Mountain Health Plans
Greenwood Village

Laura Teachout, NAMI Colorado Springs Board Member
Colorado Springs

Brian Turner, Solvista Health
Canon City

Selwyn Whiteskunk, Ute Mountain Tribe

Ex-officio members:

Kate Greenberg, Colorado Department of Agriculture
Brey Hopkins, Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
Nancy Ingalls, Douglas County Schools (for CDE)
Debbie Oldenettel, Colorado Department of Public Safety
Patty Salazar, Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies
Dean Williams, Colorado Department of Corrections

State Safety Net Subcommittee

Aubrey Boggs

Frank Cornelia, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council

Kevin Duffy, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office
Castle Rock

Melissa Eddleman, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing

Marilyn Fausset

Alison George, Colorado Department of Local Affairs

Kimberly Gonzales, Las Animas Huerfano Counties District Health Department

Joy Hart, Colorado Department of Corrections

Nancy Jackson, Arapahoe County

Carl LoFaro

Meighen Lovelace

Tom Manzione, Attention Homes

Mike Nugent, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment

John Pickett III, Larimer County Human Services

Aisha Rousseau, Denver Office of Disability Rights

Deb Ruttenberg, Grand County Department of Human Services
Hot Sulphur Springs

Jessica Schart, Kit Carson County Department of Public Health and Environment

Richard Simms, Richard S Simms PC

Lauren Snyder, Mental Health Colorado

Sarah Vaine, Summit County Government

Eva Veitch, Region 10 LEAP

Traci Walker, Aurora Municipal Courts

Robert Werthwein, Colorado Department of Human Services

Ex-officio members:

Kristina Daniel, Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc.

Rickey Gray, Cedar Springs Hospital
Colorado Springs

Kiara Kuenzler, Jefferson Center for Mental Health
Wheat Ridge

Children's Behavioral Health Subcommittee

Morgan Bruss, Harrison School District 2
Colorado Springs

Megan Burch, Eagle County Department of Human Services

Sarah Davidon

Samantha Field, Mental Health Professional

Martha Fraley, Pediatric Partners of the Southwest

Brook Griese, Judi’s House/JAG Institute

Jennifer Grote, Denver Health

Camille Harding, Colorado Department of Human Services

Rebecca Hea, Denver Children’s Home

Melissa Janiszewski, Office of Children’s Affairs

Dawn Khederian, The Vanguard School
Colorado Springs

John Laukkanen, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing

Carol Meredith, The Arc Arapahoe & Douglas

Dafna Michaelson Jenet, General Assembly

Aaron Miltenberger, Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley

Lindsey Myers, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment

Leslie Patterson 
Colorado Springs

Jessica Peck, Jessica K. Peck, Attorney at Law

Lindsay Reeves, Catholic Charities Diocese of Pueblo

Lenya Robinson, Jefferson Center for Mental Health
Wheat Ridge

Shannon Secrest

Shannon Van Deman, Children’s Hospital Colorado

Stephanie Villafuerte, Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman

Kathryn Wells, Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect

Lisa Zimprich, Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8

Ex-officio member:

Jamie Murrary, Cañon City School District
Canon City

Long-Term Competency Subcommittee

Lacey Anne Berumen, TRACKtech LLC
Greenwood Village

Alison Butler, Disability Law Colorado

Su Coffey, Hollywood Showcase Denver

Alexis Giese, Colorado Access

Brian Gonzales, University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work

Ravid Moshe “Moses” Gur, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council

Ben Harris, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Finance

Joy Hart, Colorado Department of Corrections

Daric Harvey, Cañon City Police
Cañon City

Peggy Heil, Colorado Department of Public Safety

Tim Lane, Colorado District Attorney's Council

Richard Martinez, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Lucienne Ohanian, Colorado State Public Defender

Brenda Pace, Pueblo County Attorney’s Office

Sasha Rai, Denver Health

Cordelia Rosenberg, University of Colorado

Jessica Russell, Health Solutions

Carleigh Sailon, Mental Health Center of Denver

Jonathan Shamis, State of Colorado Judge

Rana Shaner

Juan Silva, Denver District Attorney’s Office

Cali Thole, SummitStone Health Partners
Fort Collins

Mary Thomas

Robert Werthwein, Colorado Department of Human Services 

COVID-19 Special Assignment Committee

Yadira Caraveo, State House of Representatives

Cara Cheevers, Colorado Division of Insurance

Lila Cummings, Colorado Hospital Association

Curt Drennen, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, co-chair

Daniel Darting, Signal Behavioral Health Network

Doyle Forrestel, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council

Camille Harding, Colorado Department of Human Services

Joy Hart, Colorado Department of Corrections

Brenda Heimbach, El Paso County Public Health Office

DeAnne House, Ute Mountain Ute

Cheri Jahn, Colorado Provider Association

Jan James, Larimer County Human Services

Tracy Johnson, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing

Kim Nordstrom, Colorado Access

Carrie Paykoc, Office of eHealth Innovation

Rod Pelton, State House of Representatives

Dianne Primavera, Lt. Governor 

Susie Walton, Park County Human Services

Robert Werthwein, Colorado Department of Human Services, co-chair

Leon Wittner, Consumer/Parent

Anthony Young, Association of Black Psychologists

Public testimonies

The Behavioral Health Task Force heard from the public about their journey within the behavioral health system, the challenges that are still being worked through, suggestions to make the behavioral health system work for all Coloradans, the groups where support has been found, and the resources that helped find success.

View or listen to public testimonies

These videos are used to inform the Behavioral Health Task Force about personal journeys and experiences through the behavioral health system in Colorado. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed by the individuals appearing in the videos belong solely to those individuals. They do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Colorado Department of Human Services. The inclusion of these videos on this website does not constitute any endorsement by CDHS of the views expressed therein.

By topic:

Substance use disorders video | audio

Suicide video | audio

Long-term competency video | audio

Children's behavioral health video | audio

General behavioral health video | audio

Parity video | audio

Provider testimonies video | audio


By location/date:

Arvada 1.18.20 video | audio

Breckenridge 9.27.19 video | audio

Colorado Springs 2.26.20 video | audio

Denver 3.6.20 video | audio

Denver 1.14.20 video | audio

Denver 12.20.19 video | audio

Denver 12.5.19 video | audio

Denver 11.18.19 video | audio

Denver 10.23.19 video | audio

Denver 9.10.19 video | audio

Douglas County 8.28.19 video | audio

Durango 10.2.19 video | audio

Eagle County 1.31.20 video | audio

Grand Junction 10.22.19 video | audio

Westminster 9.27.19 video | audio


Written testimonies

Summary report

Meeting resources

Click below to expand the meeting resources for the Task Force and subcommittees.

Main Task Force

Meeting resources for all past meetings can be accessed here

August 27, 2020 meeting

August 14, 2020 meeting

July 30, 2020 meeting

July 7, 2020 meeting

June 26, 2020 meeting

June 9, 2020 meeting

June 5, 2020 meeting

May 12, 2020 meeting

March 13, 2020 meeting

February 13, 2020 meeting

January 24, 2020 meeting

January 15, 2020 meeting

December 11, 2019 meeting

November 12, 2019 meeting

October 2, 2019 meeting

September 12, 2019 meeting

August 7, 2019 meeting

July 1, 2019 meeting

State Safety Net Subcommittee

Meeting resources for all past meetings can be accessed here.

June 18, 2020 meeting

June 4, 2020 meeting

May 21, 2020 meeting

May 7, 2020 meeting

March 5, 2020 meeting

February 6, 2020 meeting

January 16, 2020 meeting

December 19, 2019 meeting

November 7, 2019 meeting

October 17, 2019 meeting

October 3, 2019 meeting

September 19, 2019 meeting

September 5, 2019 meeting

August 15, 2019 meeting

July 18, 2019 meeting

Children's Behavioral Health Subcommittee

Meeting resources for all past meetings can be accessed here. 

June 25, 2020 meeting

June 11, 2020 meeting

May 28, 2020 meeting

May 14, 2020 meeting

April 23, 2020 meeting

March 12, 2020 meeting

February 27, 2020 meeting

February 13, 2020 meeting

January 23, 2020 meeting

​January 9, 2020 meeting

December 12, 2019 meeting

November 14, 2019 meeting

Children's Legislation Webinar

October 24, 2019 meeting

October 10, 2019 meeting

September 12, 2019 meeting

August 23, 2019 meeting

August 9, 2019 meeting

Long-Term Competency Subcommittee

Meeting resources for all past meetings can be accessed here. 

June 22, 2020 meeting

June 8, 2020 meeting

May 27, 2020 meeting

May 11, 2020 meeting

April 27, 2020 meeting

March 9, 2020 meeting

February 24, 2020 meeting

February 10, 2020 meeting

February 7, 2020 Legislation Discussion Call

January 27, 2020 meeting

January 13, 2020 meeting

January 10, 2020 Legislation Discussion Call

December 16, 2019 Legislation Discussion Call

December 9, 2019 meeting

November 18, 2019 meeting

November 7, 2019 Legislation Discussion

October 28, 2019 meeting

October 9, 2019 meeting

October 8, 2019 meeting

September 23, 2019 meeting

September 6, 2019 meeting

August 29, 2019 meeting

August 12, 2019 meeting

July 22, 2019 meeting

July 10, 2019 meeting

COVID-19 Special Assignment Committee

Meeting resources for all past meetings can be accessed here


September 17, 2020 meeting

September 14, 2020 meeting

September 1, 2020 meeting

August 4, 2020 meeting

COVID-19 Analyses 

July 22, 2020 meeting

July 6, 2020 meeting

June 24, 2020 meeting

June 10, 2020 meeting

May 27, 2020 meeting

May 13, 2020 meeting

Recorded webinars
  • Subcommittee Reports Presentation. The Farley Health Policy Center presents the Subcommittee Report and recommendations from State Safety Net, Children's Behavioral Health and Long Term Competency subcommittees. 
  • Division of Insurance Town Hall. Representatives from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, Division of Insurance hosted a webinar with task force members to talk about their role in behavioral health reform in Colorado.
  • Medicaid and the Blueprint. HCPF hosted a webinar for the task force to answer their questions regarding recommendations on how HCPF can improve behavioral health services, administration and oversight in partnership with other state agencies and in anticipation of the Blueprint. 
  • Behavioral Health Needs Assessment. Health Management Associates presented their preliminary findings to the Safety Net Subcommittee.
  • Qualitative Analysis Webinar. The Colorado Office of Behavioral Health completed a qualitative analysis of the 34 public testimonies given before the Behavioral Health Task Force relating to children and youth. They presented their findings to the Children's Behavioral Health Subcommittee. 
  • Guidelines for sensible, evidence-based mental health care. Dr. Robert Drake serves as the Vice President for Behavioral Health and Health Policy at Westat. In this webinar he discussed best practices in areas ranging from rural mental health to intensive treatment and more. 
  • Provider Meeting. On May 6, 2020, the Behavioral Health Task Force provided an update on the work of the task force and solicited input on the proposed model. 
  • Colorado Courts and Competency. Judge Shamis shared lessons from the Los Angeles Mental Health Courts and the Colorado Juvenile Assessment Center shares how their model fits in with the Long Term Competency Subcommittee's work.  
  • CCI Webinar. On March 3, 2020, the Behavioral Health Task Force hosted a call with Colorado Counties to update them on the work of the BHTF as well as the initial recommendations and proposed model.
  • BHTF Partner Meeting. The BHTF gathered partners and organizations that are focused on making improvements within our behavioral health system in order to not duplicate efforts and identify how other work is aligned with the BHTF. This webinar includes updates on the initial recommendations of the BHTF and the proposed model. 
  • Parity Webinar. This was an optional webinar to provide an update on parity in Colorado
  • Families First Webinar. This was an optional webinar for the Children's Behavioral Health Subcommittee to learn about the Families First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA)
  • Population In Need Study. Health Management Associates has completed some initial work for the Population In Need (PIN) Study that it is conducting for the Office of Behavioral Health within CDHS. The first report has been completed: Developing an approach to confirm and identify new and emerging areas of need. Join this webinar to hear what HMA has done so far, what they plan to do in the future, and key stakeholders.
  • State Health IT Roadmap. Learn about Colorado's Health IT Roadmap, which provides a framework guiding efforts and accelerating technology-driven health care transformations. This could spark our thinking on how we can better leverage technology in offering a Behavioral Health System that works for everyone.
  • Colorado Counties' Behavioral Health. Behavioral health conditions are felt most powerfully at the local level. These Colorado counties have taken behavioral healthcare into their own hands, and are here to share their success stories and lessons they've learned. 
  • WICHE Funding Study. The Safety Net Subcommittee discussed the 2016 report on the behavioral health funding in Colorado. 
Community conversations

Summary Reports

March 19, 2020

December 27, 2019

September 29, 2019

August 29, 2019

Financial analyses

Serving Colorado's Children: A Financial Map of the Behavioral Health System

Serving Colorado's Adults: A Financial Map of the Behavioral Health System

COVID-19 analysis

COVID-19 Behavioral Health Impact Evaluation Provider Report

Press releases and newsletters 

Press Releases

Past Newsletters

Do you want to share a personal story related to behavioral health in Colorado? We want to hear more. Click here!

BHTF in the news

Durango Herald: Residents call for behavioral health care reform: State task force hears emotional testimony

Chalkbeat: Deep breaths and ‘brain breaks’: How extra funds for mental health are transforming one Aurora school

9News: Organizations across Colorado are integrating physical and mental health services

Gazette: Access to mental health, substance abuse treatment in Colorado getting worse, survey finds

Colorado Sun: Colorado officials created greeting cards to destigmatize the opioid epidemic. They didn’t order nearly enough.

Colorado Politics: Without access to care, anxiety, depression, addiction stalk rural Coloradans

Gazette: Denver Foundation awards $8M for behavioral health services in Colorado

The Durango Herald: State looks to improve behavioral health; Utes get new center

Colorado Community Media: Colorado task force looks to reform behavioral health system 

Colorado Public Radio: This State Task Force Wants To Overhaul How Behavioral Health Services Are Delivered To Young Coloradans

ABC7: Improving mental health care a personal mission for Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera

Westword: Changes to Help Those "Lost in the System" Because of Mental Illness

Mile High Mamas: 7 Tips for talking about drugs and alcohol with kids

Stout Street: Death Rates of Pregnant Colorado Women are Climbing Due To Substance Abuse

Colorado Public Radio: Colorado Is A Hotbed Of Teen Vaping, But Lacks The Tools To Help Kids Quit

Post Independent: Post Independent’s Longevity Project set to tackle mental health across age spectrum

The Gazette: Gov. Polis' behavioral health task force calls for 'systemic transformation'

Westminster Window: Colorado's Behavioral Health Task Force kicks off

Durango Herald: Fraley named to Behavioral Health Task Force

Ark Valley Voice: Solvista Health CEO Turner named to Colorado Behavioral Health Task Force

The Gazette: Gov. Polis announces task force to reform Colorado's behavioral health care system

State of Reform: Gov. Polis and Michelle Barnes of CDHS announce “Colorado’s Behavioral Health Task Force”