Though the state has made an effort to increase support for people with mental illness, those who don't — or can't — receive care are left in the lurch.
Alberta Gonzales of central Colorado Springs works in in-home care.
How well do you think the city handles mental illness? I think they're doing an awesome job, and they just need to announce it more. I have a brother who's bipolar and I didn't know any of these [services] existed.
Is there a stigma attached to mental illness? I think yes. It depends on what kind of background you come from. For me, it helps me to see my brother. Like, I can say "my brother does this" or "my brother does that" and that helps me understand better.
What can we do to help people with mental illness on an individual level? I try to volunteer at this soup kitchen. Through them, we're trying to get this program going where you talk to people one-on-one. Some people aren't going to ask for help so you have to go to them. It's hard enough for them, you know?
Ian Edward Murray of Colorado Springs is an arborist.
What are your experiences with mental illness? I'm on a mental health roller coaster that's bipolar and, well ... I'm under four or five different classifications of it. I went through the RDDT (Residential Dual Diagnosis Treatment) program.
And what did you get out of that program? I got to not go back to prison. As I understand it, the law stated if I was a low risk I couldn't go back to prison, but they said I'm a high risk. I'm not high risk. I never committed a violent crime.
What kind of support do you have within the community? Not much. There used to be this dual-diagnosis AA meeting, and they don't have it anymore. They introduced me to the DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance), but I told my family about it and they didn't seem too interested.
Caleb Stoller of North Nevada is a mover and asphalt layer.
How do you think the city handles mental health? As far as I've seen, pretty good. If someone sees someone who's down, they step in to help 'em out. We have a good community here.
Do you have any experience with the system? Like jail? Yeah, I've been there. They don't do anything for people. Just give you some pills. People who legitimately have mental health issues, they let them go crazy in their head. There's nothing for them.
How can the criminal justice system do better? They just have to have an interest in the people themselves. It's just a business to them. We're like cattle. They should have counseling or someone who has an interest in actually helping us.