The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) is launching a public campaign to address the stigma associated with mental health, one of the key reasons people suffering from mental health don’t seek treatment.

What You Say Matters is an education campaign based on results from a 2021-2022 study on mental health issues in the Denver area, which concluded that many people that are experiencing behavioral health issues are not getting appropriate treatment. For example:

  • Of the 8,700 children afflicted with serious emotional disturbance (SED), only 12% were provided services.
  • Only 17% of adults with serious mental illness (SMI) were receiving care.
  • Less than half of adults with alcohol or other drug issues (AOD) were getting the services they needed.

“Colorado has a higher rate of mental health issues and lower rates of access to care,” the report said. Citing Mental Health America’s 2021 State of Mental Health in America Report, it noted that Colorado ranks 47th among states and the District of Columbia for mental health issues, substance abuse, and access to care. The study also noted a high rate of suicide among those aged 15-19, which is increasing in Colorado. When probing for reasons why so few people struggling with mental health issues seek help, the study concluded that stigma and fears of discrimination and prejudice are the key reasons.

“Stigma is clearly one of the major reasons why Denverites do not receive needed services. Reduction in stigma levels has the potential of reducing unneeded suffering, improving health outcomes, and saving lives.” – Anti-Stigma Campaign Project: Phase 1 Final Report

You can learn more about the campaign, including ways to help mitigate the stigma at