LGBTQ Coloradans have experienced the greatest mental health strain in the past year, poll finds

LGBTQ Coloradans have experienced the greatest mental health strain in the past year, poll finds

Nearly a third of Coloradans have experienced pressure on their mental health in the past year, the majority of whom were LGBTQ people and women under the age of 50, a survey from the Colorado Health Foundation found.

Nearly 3,000 Colorado adults were interviewed for the poll, which found many had serious concerns about mental health, health care costs, and drug and alcohol use.

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Out-of-pocket expenses for mental health services are the most significant challenge for respondents experiencing difficulties. This is true across regions, household incomes, and races and ethnicities. Insurance did not radically change respondents’ beliefs that services cost too much. A third of those who were insured through their employer continued to say that the services were too expensive.

“Obviously when there’s a situation where for many Coloradans their health insurance won’t cover mental health services or won’t cover them adequately, that means more out of pocket costs for them,” said Dave Metz, partner at research and president. of FM3 Research, one of the pollsters. “And that means it becomes an even bigger obstacle.”

While many residents struggle to access mental health care, those who identify as LGBTQ are more likely to experience difficulty. Three in four said mental health services were too expensive, 67% said there were no appointments available or there were too many waits, and 65% did not know how find a service provider.

(Courtesy of Colorado Health Foundation)

One in five Coloradans said they experienced unfair treatment because of their race or ethnicity when seeking services, with the majority being Native Americans. Native Americans in Colorado are much more likely to say they cannot find a provider who understands their experiences.

Alcohol and drug use has increased dramatically among Coloradans over the past year. One in 10 people worry about how much they drink, with LGBTQ people most likely to worry about their drinking habits. However, most say their usage has stayed the same with consumption dropping. Metz said that could be due to the relaxation of pandemic precautions and people spending less time at home.

The survey presented three proposed solutions to improve respondents’ mental health. Proposals include creating more mental health care service options, requiring insurance companies to provide more copayment-free services, and matching mental health care providers with the police to respond to mental health emergency calls. Consistently across all regions and political parties, Coloradans view the solutions as effective.

“Health risks know no party lines, and they affect Coloradans regardless of their political ideology,” Metz said.

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