Neville Bill Will Help Bridge Mental Health Gap

DENVER - Coloradans who are taken into police custody in the midst of a mental health or substance abuse crisis, often also find themselves released from custody with nowhere to go for the ongoing help they need in order to prevent the crisis from recurring. That soon could change, however, if a bipartisan mental health support bill making its way through the Statehouse ends up on the Governor’s desk.

SB-270, co-sponsored in the Senate by Republican Tim Neville and Independent Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge, will help bridge that gap in care for Coloradans in crisis by establishing “transition teams” that will be there when an individual is released, to help connect them with the long-term care they need.

The bill cleared the Senate Friday with overwhelming-bipartisan support and should be taken up today or tomorrow by the House.

“The problem we have now is that law enforcement can only hold a person in crisis for 72-hours, which may be enough time to evaluate and stabilize the person but provides no help in getting the longer-term care these individuals desperately need,” explained Neville. “Without any longer-term help, many of these people will be back in custody again and again, as the tragic cycle repeats itself. Our goal with the Behavioral Health Crisis Transition Program is to break the cycle by having a transition team available to step in help connect these Coloradans with longer-term help, when that help is requested.”

Neville believes this is a more constructive, constitutionally-sound way to help prevent mental health-related tragedies than another bill making headlines late this session, House Bill 1436, the so-called red flag bill, which Neville describes as a gun confiscation measure disguised as a mental health bill. “Our focus should be on helping people, not banning objects or taking away the rights of citizens,” said Neville.

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