DENVER (CBS4) – Adam County District Attorney Brian Mason is opening up about his own mental health struggles in an effort to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and increase access to care.
“There are too many law enforcement people who suffer, often in silence, from mental health struggles. I know because I’m one of them, ”Mason said at a news conference to support a bill that would require insurers to cover annual mental wellness checks as annual physicists do.
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Mason says that if it weren’t for therapy, he wouldn’t be alive.
“I go to homicide scenes. I go to autopsies. I see things in my paper that I can’t see. I have had my own mental health crises and I am about to break my mental health ”.
Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet, sponsor of the bill, says it aims to identify and treat mental health issues before they become a crisis. Just as physicists can mark high cholesterol before it causes a heart attack, she says, a mental well-being control can detect signs of depression before it causes suicide and even reduce the physical manifestations of stress and anxiety such as high blood pressure and migraines.
“Imagine you went to the doctor to look for a doctor and the doctor said,‘ Hey, you have high blood pressure. Why don’t you call me back when you have a heart attack? This is the state of our mental health care system right now, ”said Michaelson Jenet.
He says mental health care should be as routine and relevant as physical health care. Its goal is to help people establish a relationship with a primary care therapist, such as their relationship with their primary care physician.
Learn the importance of the bill first hand. He has a major depressive disorder.
“It’s like you could treat any other condition, and if you have access to it and you know how to get there and if you do it on a regular basis,” Michaelson Jenet said.
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Rep. Brianna Titone, co-sponsor of the bill, says it is now needed more than ever.
“With the pandemic on us here, still persistent, a lot of people are still struggling,” he said. “So let’s get ahead of that and fix these issues early.”
In addition to preventing a mental health crisis, Mason says, it will also help prevent crime.
“There are an astonishing number of people in the criminal justice system who have mental health issues.”
He says not only do the perpetrators fight, but the victims and crimes have an undulating effect.
“Preventing crime is always better, and I could add cheaper, than prosecuting crime. With this bill we can help prevent crime. By offering annual mental health exams, we can identify problems before people enter the criminal justice system and hopefully keep them out. Not only does it help those struggling with mental health, but it makes our community safer, ”Mason said.
The Colorado Health Plans Association, a trade association for the health insurance industry, says the bill will increase premiums by 1, 1%. Supporters say it will save a lot more on things like addiction and hospitalization.
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If passed, it would be the first law of its kind in the country. It passed its first committee unanimously.