About 35,000 Coloradans who have a developmental disability like autism or cerebral palsy also struggle with a mental illness. A new report out Friday highlights how difficult it is for them to receive the care they need.
I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS tells the story of Alex Meredith, 29, of Lakewood, Colo., who was diagnosed with autism early in his life. During his teens he started to hit himself. His mother, Carol, didn’t know what was going on.
"It was so hard to watch," Carol Meredith told I-News. "I just kept thinking that autism was the issue, and I didn’t think about it being a mental health issue."
I-News reporter Kristin Jones says once Carol figured out what was happening she ran into trouble getting her son help.
Medicaid pays for care for people with autism on a fee-for-service basis for each doctor's visit. But funding for mental health is different. Mental health providers receive a lump sum each year and have to decide how to best use that funding.
That means Carol had to figure out appropriate care and pay for it on her own to help her son deal with symptoms of obsessive complusive disorder and pyschosis.
Saturday, the next round of meetings will take place on mental health issues throughout the state. More than 60 organizations are working to remove barriers to treatment and to remove the stigma attached to mental illness.
The meeting locations and times are as follows:
- History Colorado Center, Denver – 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
- Berger Hall, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs – 9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
- Fort Collins Marriott, Fort Collins – 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
- Glenwood Springs Branch Library, Glenwood Springs – 2-4:30 p.m.