Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 23, 2022

Contact: State Representative Judy Amabile || 303-516-4798

Bill to Update Colorado’s Involuntary Commitment Statute Advances

Representatives Judy Amabile and Julie McCluskie sponsored the bill, a significant win for advancing better mental health care in Colorado

DENVER, CO –  A bill to update Colorado’s outdated involuntary commitment statute (Title 27 Article 65 CRS) today moved forward in the House.

“Colorado’s civil commitment statutes were created in the 1960s and haven’t been updated to conform with modern values and best practices in health care,” said Rep. Judy Amabile.  “Many patients brought in on an involuntary hold are experiencing one of the worst mental health crises of their lives. This bill ensures that patients are treated with as much dignity and care as possible, including ensuring they can keep their clothing items or cell phones, have access to legal representation, and basic rights like access to food and water.”

HB22-1256, sponsored by Representatives Judy Amabile and Julie McCluskie would strengthen and streamline Colorado’s involuntary civil commitment system to protect patients and providers, reduce repetitive admissions, and improve overall mental health care outcomes.

“Colorado currently ranks 51st in access to mental health services and treatment, meaning countless Coloradans, especially in rural areas, are unable to access the care they need to deal with mental health issues before they reach crisis levels,” said Rep. Julie McCluskie.. “For many families this results in children, parents, brothers and sisters being caught in the state’s involuntary civil commitment system. In fact, in 2019 alone, there were 50,000 72-hour mental health holds in Colorado, or roughly 136 a day. Unfortunately, the statutes regulating these processes have not been meaningfully updated since the 1970s.” 

This bill enables the Behavioral Health Administration to provide care coordinations for patients who are in the custody of the provider while on an involuntary hold, similar to the current substance use involuntary commitment process. This will support the client receiving greater continuity of care and support while under a certification.

There are many benefits to the system and individuals by changing who has custody including increased data and awareness of service needs, continuity of care, increased ability to blend and braid funding and services to help people succeed, and increased likelihood of diversion from the criminal justice system.