Mental health services in primary care facilities would save lives and provide assistance to local law enforcement.

60% of gun deaths in the United States are suicides and we are not talking enough about it. My father put a gun to his chest and pulled the trigger over ten years ago and I am going to talk about it, because if I don’t then no one will.

People seek primary care for routine care and when they are not feeling well. Several Federal healthcare mandates require that doctors ask if people are depressed, if they feel safe at home, or if they have thoughts of suicide. If a person says that they have been feeling blue what happens next? They are given a referral to seek mental health care. Statistics show that they often do not follow up, especially if the nearest mental health provider is an hour away. Distance and time are obstacles to care. Mental health providers should be present in every primary care facility to consult with patients and schedule follow ups. The way to treat mental health is to break down barriers and remove stigma. It is essential to bring the treatment to the patient in order to do this.

If I am elected to the Colorado State House I will introduce legislation that would provide funding to clinics to hire mental health providers for primary care facilities. This not only allows for care in the facility, but it also provides the opportunity for local law enforcement to have access to mental health professionals in situations where they may be needed. Increasing the demand for mental health providers will also encourage more mental health professionals to practice in our state.

If we do not talk about solutions then we will never get answers. Bringing the care to the patient is the most effective way to manage an illness before it becomes fatal.

-Holly Herson, candidate for State House District 48