on October 2, 2016 by in Golden News, Comments Off on Lakewood-area house candidates discuss mental health

Lakewood-area house candidates discuss mental health

It was a small group of state House candidates who attended the first of four candidate forums hosted by Mental Health Colorado, but the discussion of the topic was lively and full of personal stories that show mental health is an important area of concern, regardless of party.

Mary Park, independent candidate for District 22 (Columbine and Ken Caryl), Chris Hadsall, Republican candidate for District 23 (Lakewood), Chris Kennedy, Democratic candidate for District 23, and Brittany Pettersen, incumbent and Democratic candidate for District 28 (Lakewood), shared the myriad ways mental health touches everyone’s life.

“My mom suffers from mental illness and she has been suicidal and needed in-patient care, but there was really nowhere for her to go,” Pettersen said, in response to a question about the lack of inpatient beds in the state. “Where she usually got long-term care was when she as in critical condition. Coverage is a huge issue.”

The forum was hosted on Sept. 20 at the Lakewood Cultural Center, and candidates from House Districts 22, 23, 24, 25, 27 and 28 and Senate District 19 were all invited.

“This is our first-ever forum and we’re excited to have people here,” said Chuck Reyman, chair of Mental Health Colorado’s board of directors. “We’re pulling our questions from questions candidates have seen in advance, online questions and ones from those in attendance.”

Questions ranged from topics like how the state can make mental health care more affordable, getting young people help when mental health symptoms often first appear, and decreasing the state’s suicide rate.

“A good friend of mine killed himself, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Every 72 minutes a veteran kills themselves,” said Hadsall, a veteran who served in Iraq. “We need to be talking about it in schools, and kids need to understand there’s help available. It falls on all of us.”

Colorado is seeing an increase in opioid addiction, and Parker tapped into her 10 years as a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer to share her experiences with the issue.

“The most surprising thing to me is most of the parents I worked with had mental health and/or addiction issues,” she said. “The good news is, once the parents got into the system they were able to get treatment for their drug addiction and mental health needs.”

All agreed one of the best things that could be done is increasing awareness of mental health issues and decreasing the stigma about seeking help.

“The best thing we can do is early detection and getting kids past the stigma, because mental health issues are common,” Kennedy said, in response to a question about the best way to fill the gaps between the first appearance of symptoms and when a person finally receives treatment. “It’s OK to seek help, in fact it’s a prerogative to seek help. I’ve also been learning about mental health first aid, and the more we’re able to train parents and teachers what the symptoms look like, the better.”

Attendees at the forum included Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul, Edgewater Mayor Kris Teegardin, Jefferson County Commissioner Casey Tighe and District Attorney candidate Jake Lilly.

“I wanted to attend because there are so many people who are uninformed about mental health,” said Lakewood resident Ann Cowie. “I’ve been a teacher, so I know that our schools just don’t have the resources needed.”

Golden Transcript – Latest Stories

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments are disabled.