Nearly a third of Coloradans experienced a strain on their mental health in the last year, the majority of whom were LGBTQ people and women under 50, a poll from the Colorado Health Foundation found.
Almost 3,000 Colorado adults were interviewed for the poll, which found many have serious concerns about mental health, the cost of health care and drug and alcohol use.
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Out-of-pocket costs for mental health services are the most significant challenge for respondents who are struggling. This is true across all regions, household incomes and races and ethnicities. Insurance did not drastically change respondents’ beliefs about services costing too much. A third of those who were insured through their employer still said that services were too expensive.
“Obviously, when there is a situation where for many Coloradans, their health insurance won’t cover mental health services or won’t adequately cover them, it means more out-of-pocket costs,” said Dave Metz, research partner and president of FM3 Research, one of the pollsters. “And, it means that that becomes an even greater barrier.”
While many residents struggle with accessing mental health care, those who identify as LGBTQ are more likely to encounter challenges. Three in four said mental health services were too expensive, 67% said there were no available appointments or too long of a wait, and 65% were unsure of how to find a provider of services.
One in five Coloradans said they faced unfair treatment based on their race or ethnicity when seeking out services, the majority being Native American. Native Americans in Colorado are significantly more likely to say they can’t find a provider who understands their experiences.
Alcohol and drug use prominently increased among Coloradans in the past year. One in 10 worry about the amount they consume, with LGBTQ people being the most likely to worry about their consumption habits. However, most say their use has remained the same with some decreasing consumption. Metz said this may be due to relaxing pandemic-related precautions and people spending less time at home.
The poll presented three proposed solutions to improve mental health to respondents. The proposals include creating more mental health care service options, requiring insurance companies to provide more services without a copay, and pairing mental health providers with police to respond to mental health emergency calls. Consistently across regions and political parties, Coloradans view the solutions as effective.
“Health risks do not know any party lines, and they affect Coloradans regardless of their political ideology,” said Metz.