Care provided by CMHCs saves $2.9 billion annually

Care provided by Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) saves $2.9 billion annually

The Colorado Health Institute (CHI) recently released a report on the financial impact produced by our state’s 17 Community Mental Health Centers (CMCHs), which outlines the benefits our organizations provide to more than 200,000 Coloradoans through direct services.

The costs/benefits analysis shows that for every $1 spent on behavioral healthcare service, more than $4 are saved, which equals approximately $2.9 billion annually. These savings are based on the knowledge that, left untreated, behavioral health issues can be expensive – not just to individuals living with these conditions, but to society as a whole. We see this in areas such as housing, criminal justice, health care, child welfare, employment and school systems.

For example, regarding physical healthcare, treatment provided to our community members through our CMHCs leads to a reduction in expenses related to hospitalization, emergency room use and outpatient care. According to the report from CHI, this equates to $1.6 billion or $7,800 in reduced costs for every person who receives treatment at a CMHC.

In the employment realm, the study found that, on average, Americans miss three days of work a year due to mental health concerns. By providing care for anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns, CMHCs provide $900 million in savings for employers.

In the criminal justice arena, we know that the cost of incarcerating one person for one year averages $45,000, and it is estimated that 1 in 5 inmates have a serious mental illness. By providing care in mental health and substance use treatment with a concentrated focus on reducing recidivism, CMHCs save our state $74 million annually.

As far as our children are concerned, CMHCs save schools $98 million per year by treating the root cause of problematic behaviors outside of the classroom. And, by helping families before they become involved in the child welfare system, CMHCs save $228 million by treating the families as a whole to promote healthier lifestyles.

These are just a few examples of how our work directly impacts our clients, and indirectly affects every citizen in Colorado. With one in three Coloradans reporting a decline in mental health due to the pandemic, the importance of CMHCs has perhaps never been more apparent.

As the CEO of SummitStone Health Partners, this report reaffirms what I know to be true. I am so proud of the work we do for our community, and it is enlightening to have our collective worth validated by external evaluation and research. I thank you all for your continued support of our mission and would particularly like to thank each and every one of our employees whose work truly makes a difference in our community every day.

If you would like to see the report in its entirety, it is available here: