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SEE ME campaign aims to end stigma around mental health and substance use

Data shows one in 10 Coloradans did not get needed mental health care in the past year; 95,000 said they needed, but did not get services for substance use.

DENVER —

A new campaign announced Wednesday seeks to end the stigma for Coloradans living with a behavioral health condition or substance use disorder. 

The campaign asks people to sign a pledge addressing the stigma associated with mental health and substance use, which often centers around people's concerns others might find out they are struggling.

“That stigma that exists is a huge barrier to accessing the help that people need,” said Gov. Jared Polis, who was present at the launch. “We also know that the holidays can be a difficult time, which also means it’s a good time to encourage people to 'SEE ME,' to encourage that check-in with family, with friends.”  

The campaign also offers a 14-day challenge, which sends a "challenge" to participants' inbox every day for two weeks. The challenges are designed to help participants think about behavioral health and provide opportunities to take positive action in the community. 

RELATED: Mental health resources for Colorado residents

“If people don’t feel safe and empowered to reach out, they won’t get the support they need, and sometimes that support can save their life,” said Executive Director at the Department of Human Services Michelle Barnes. 

Barnes said the Colorado Health Institute found that 47% of Coloradans who did not receive mental health services did not do so because they were concerned with stigma.

The data from the Colorado Health Institute Barnes cited was published as a part of the December 2019 Colorado Health Access Survey Storybook.

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The research also displayed that stigma is a major reason around 72% of people go without care for substance use. This percentage is up by around 30% from 2017 surveys, which displayed that 42% of people cited stigma as the main reason for not seeking out care.

Polis also said that cost and affordability for mental health and substance abuse care would be worked on by looking into decreasing the cost for insurance to ensure people who need care do not have a financial barrier. 

“We’re all in this together,” Polis said. “The more we help one another, the better off we will be.” 

SEE ME campaign components:

  • SEE ME pledge: Coloradans can sign to acknowledge that they will ask for help and help those around them when needed.
  • 14-Day Challenge: Includes prompts ranging from engaging in the conversation about changing the behavioral health system, to new ways to pay it forward and see more than a diagnosis. 
  • Virtual story wall: Coloradans can submit their experiences with mental health conditions, addiction disorders and their experiences with Colorado’s behavioral health system.

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