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Population Mental Health and Well-being Initiative

Colorado School of Public Health


A significant portion of the region’s behavioral health (i.e. mental health and substance use) needs are currently unmet due to a host of factors, including misinformation and stigma that interferes with help-seeking, lack of behavioral health training in the workforce, a failure to invest in mental health promotion and early intervention, and simple inadequacy of the supply of behavioral health providers to meet the demands of our community. Epidemiologic data estimates that approximately one in five Americans has a diagnosable mental disorder. However, there is only one behavioral health provider for every 529 people in the U.S.

Most of the current efforts in behavioral health are focused on expanding clinical care, but these systems will forever be outpaced by demand unless preventive measures are taken. It is critical that we improve access to care, enhance overall mental health and well-being, and prevent the occurrence of mental and substance use disorders, particularly given the dearth of available treatment options. Public health brings the necessary expertise to enact these changes at the population level, and is uniquely situated to leverage the resources of both medical and allied fields.

Patients often delay care due to stigma, significant financial burden, or lack of education around behavioral health issues, creating a vicious cycle of significant strain on providers, many of whom are booked months in advance, to provide care for issues that have progressed untreated until they warrant immediate, emergent attention. The field of public health provides the tools and models to maximize efficiency of care, address barriers to care, and prevent mental illness by promoting positive mental health and behavioral health hygiene using a population-based approach; ultimately significantly reducing healthcare costs. Public health can fortify the field of behavioral health by providing frameworks for efficacy in service and prevention, training future leaders in this field, and leveraging the passionate and committed members of our community and workforce to achieve their common goal of population health in the most complete sense.

The Colorado School of Public Health is uniquely poised to fill a significant need and become a national leader at the intersection of behavioral health prevention research and public health practice by developing cutting-edge research and strengthening the current and future workforce via strong academic and practice efforts.

Click to see Our Vision and Strategy


Who We Are


Faculty & Staff

Director: Jenn Leiferman, PhD, MS, is an associate professor in ColoradoSPH who has spent the last 20 years working in the area of mental health. Her research focuses on developing and testing prevention and treatment strategies for perinatal mental health. Recently her work has also focused on improving access to care for perinatal mood disorders. She is also the director of the DrPH program in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health.

Program Manager: Chloe Bennion, MPH, received her MPH in Health Behavior from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and has a strong interest in the impact of sociocultural factors on health, and on the cascading effects of poor mental health and substance use disorders across all aspects of health and health systems.

Jennifer Jewell, MSPH, is currently pursuing a DrPH degree in the Community and Behavioral Health program. Her master's focus was in Epidemiology and her primary research interest pertains to the development of nonpharmacological approaches to prevent postpartum mood disorders. She has worked on several grants researching treatment options for youth and adults with depression. She currently works with Dr. Leiferman on various perinatal mental health projects.


Advisory Board

  • Vince Atchity | Executive Director, Equitas Foundation
  • Donna Boucher | Retired founder and President, Bates Group Inc.
  • Carl Clark | President & CEO, Mental Health Center of Denver
  • Frank DeGruy, MD | Full Professor and Chair, CU Anschutz Department of Family Medicine
  • John Douglas, MD | Executive Director, Tri-County Health Department
  • Peggy Hill | Deputy Director, National Mental Health Innovation Center
  • Susan Marine | Commissioner, Suicide Prevention Commission
  • Brian Turner, MPH | Deputy Director, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council
  • Jeannie Ritter | Mental Health Ambassador
  • RJ Ross | Co-Founder, President & CEO, Samaritan Ministry & Samaritan Institute Foundation and Member, ColoradoSPH Advisory Board
  • ​Chris Wiant, MPH, PhD | President & CEO, Caring for Colorado and Chair, ColoradoSPH Advisory Board

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Colorado School of Public Health

13001 E. 17th Place
Mail Stop B119
Aurora, CO 80045


colorado.sph@ucdenver.edu

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