“I very much hope that rural and border counties will see better access to services and resources.”
Logan County Commissioner Byron Pelton.
The Behavioral Health Administration, a new cabinet-led state agency designed to improve mental health care and addiction treatment in Colorado, launched Friday with a virtual community event and press conference. .
The launch is the result of work begun in 2019 by a behavioral health task force that included Logan County Commissioner Byron Pelton. The commissioner was unable to attend Friday’s celebration, but said the new department was a good first step.
“The BHA is the first step to improving behavioral health services across the state,” Pelton said. “I very much hope that rural and border counties will see better access to services and resources.”
Speakers at the event focused on the values and action plans of the BHA and introduced the BHA leadership team, as well as the newly appointed members of the Behavioral Health Administration Advisory Council. Medlock credited “incredible leadership” in creating the new agency.
“We stand on the shoulders of incredible leaders who have moved the needle inch by inch, and now we finally have the platform to make historic change,” Medlock said. “With the support and trust of Colorado, we will bring to life the necessary solutions that have been in the works for decades.”
Pelton said the work was needed because people in rural Colorado who needed mental health resources were being left behind.
“I think commissioners across the state saw the huge problem with the behavioral health system and wanted to see systematic changes to that system so that they provide services to the people we represent,” he said. declared. “So many people have been left behind in rural and border counties due to lack of access to services.”
The event marked Dr. Morgan Medlock’s first public appearance as the new BHA Commissioner. Gov. Jared Polis appointed Medlock to the post in January.
“We show up and get personal with the work at hand,” Medlock said. “It’s not just about building a meaningful, accessible and reliable system. It’s about building a system that we would want our own family members to be part of.
Medlock previously served as Chief Medical Officer and Director of Crisis and Emergency Services for the Washington, DC Department of Behavioral Health. She is also on the faculty of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior and Howard University College of Medicine and previously served as a clinician in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.