Mental Health Matters

When Allen came to DRS 16 years ago, he was lost in the system where he hit multiple barriers related to his mental health disability. DRS staff, coming from our ‘peer to peer’ model, treated Allen with the respect that he had not experienced elsewhere. They also advocated for him in the system and taught him advocacy skills so he could advocate for himself. Many of the people DRS works with who have mental health disabilities run into these types of barriers in the community.

Allen and Alison Dawson, Director of Programs and longtime ally, recently met with Laurie Stolen, Behavioral Health Project Manager for Larimer County, about Mental Health Matters. Mental Health Matters is a countywide initiative to build more comprehensive mental health services that greatly expand treatment options for both substance use disorders and mental health in our community. There are many gaps in the system for people with mental health issues and this initiative hopes to address those gaps.

Ms. Stolen has made it her life’s work to address these gaps and make sure that every person with mental health issues can access the treatment they need and be met with respect and compassion. It is her hope that, if this initiative passes, people will not walk through the system alone and will have the necessary services readily available.

Allen is excited for this initiative to pass as it will also budget for 12 peer navigators who will be able to help others dealing with similar issues. He wants to be one, which would fulfill his lifelong dream of ‘paying it forward’ to assist other people the way he was helped at DRS. For more information visit:

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