Colorado’s newest center dedicated to improving mental and behavioral health has been established with a $10 million five-year commitment from The Anschutz Foundation, one of the largest program pledges in the history of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
The National Behavioral Health Innovation Center is housed at CU Anschutz in Aurora, but is designed as a “virtual center” to serve people in Colorado and across the nation, by identifying and implementing behavioral health solutions, making connections to national experts, and providing resources to build connections among community leaders across the state.
“There are few areas of health care more important and less understood than mental and behavioral health,” says CU President Bruce Benson. “By investing in a center with a focus on finding innovative approaches to prevention, identification and treatment through intensive collaboration with partners all across our state, The Anschutz Foundation is investing in a brighter future for all people who suffer from a behavioral health condition. We couldn’t be more grateful for their continued philanthropic partnership.”
“With this commitment, The Anschutz Foundation is hoping to help bring together resources and expertise to rapidly move the needle for mental and behavioral health in meaningful ways,” says Executive Director of The Anschutz Foundation Ted Harms. “We want to see the NBHIC become an example of what is possible when great minds band together to effect change, and, ultimately, to become a model for fostering the implementation of new and innovative approaches to behavioral health care across the country.”
Matt Vogl, MPH, has been named NBHIC executive director, reporting jointly to CU Anschutz Chancellor Don Elliman and to an NBHIC board of directors made up of prominent community, business, philanthropy and health care leaders who will guide the NBHIC’s work and ensure its relevance and sustainability into the future.
The NBHIC will engage the best minds across diverse industries in Colorado and nationally to help identify high-value focus areas for behavioral health innovation, identify subject matter experts, and assist in building community and organizational partnerships.
“Our vision for the NBHIC is to build a model for how people who suffer from mental illness or substance abuse should be treated as part of the health care continuum,” Vogl says. “To do so, we will work to become a state where stigma is absent, early identification and care is the norm, high-quality treatment is accessible to people in every community, and those in recovery get the support they need to return to a full and vital life.”
The NBHIC’s leadership is reaching out to community leaders to inform the center’s priorities and identify areas in which communities have developed innovative behavioral health solutions that warrant further exploration and possible expansion. Early interest is emerging in the design of employer-driven health promotion and coverage models, and in introducing the relevance of behavioral health to students entering diverse professions in business, education and other non-health care fields.
“The ongoing leadership of The Anschutz Foundation in the mental and behavioral health arena is inspiring,” says CU Anschutz Medical Campus Chancellor Don Elliman. “Our hope is that the NBHIC will help unite disparate efforts across our state and our region, and help accelerate progress by convening leaders and facilitating knowledge sharing. Together, we will usher in a new era of innovation in behavioral health.”
CU has some 61,000 degree-seeking students across its four campuses and another 8,000 taking courses for credit. The university graduates more students than any university in Colorado, about 14,000 last year. CU is well-positioned to lead efforts to integrate mental and behavioral wellness into the workplace and the classroom, and to share knowledge gained with others interested in following suit.