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Colorado mental health holds, by the numbers

9Wants to Know analyzed a database to better help Colorado understand who is being placed on mental health holds and what happens after the 72 hours is up.
Credit: Creatas / Thinkstock

Four times an hour – or once every 15 minutes – someone in Colorado is placed in a 72-hour, involuntary mental health hold, according to data reviewed by 9Wants to Know.

Nearly 35,000 people were placed on an involuntary mental health hold during fiscal year 2017, according to the Office of Behavioral Health, part of the Colorado Department of Human Services. About 5,000 people were placed on more than one hold during that year – for a total of 40,234 mental health holds reported to the state agency.

According to the data, 86 people were placed on six or more mental health holds in a single year. Many of them are discharged from the 72 hour hold or “dropped” during the hold, causing some mental health advocates to raise the concern hundreds of Coloradans are not getting the mental health treatment they need following a crisis.

"The truth is, those 72 hours are unlikely to cure your mental illness," said Andrew Romanoff, the president and CEO of Mental Health Colorado. "Hoping on a wing and a prayer that they'll figure out a path on their own – that doesn't happen for a lot of folks."

Explore the data here.

About the data: Not all hospitals in the state are required to report data on mental health holds to the Office of Behavioral Health, but most major providers do. These include Denver Health, Porter Adventist Hospital, and major mental health providers, like Colorado Mental Health Institute. In all, 59 hospitals and major mental health providers reported data to the state agency for fiscal year 2017, from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017.

Read more: Bill would provide treatment and housing to people with severe mental illness

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