In the News

In the News

WellPower in the News

Find WellPower (formerly Mental Health Center of Denver) in news media all over Colorado and nationally. Read below for previews of articles, and click on the links to read or watch the original stories.

Ways to be mindful about summer alcohol consumption

9NEWS | June 10, 2024

WellPower Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jody Ryan, joined 9NEWS to discuss how you can find ways to be mindful of alcohol consumption this summer.

Colorado’s growing approach to solving chronic homelessness: Permanent housing with few rules

The Colorado Sun | June 5, 2024

When Solid Ground Apartments opens next week in Lakewood, it comes with proof of concept — giving people who are homeless a place to live, no strings attached, not only changes their lives but can save public money.

The new 40-unit complex is the first permanent supportive housing project in Colorado to copy Sanderson Apartments, which welcomed its first residents in 2017 as a national model in solving homelessness.

Both projects are run by community mental health centers and both invite people who are living outside — the ones burning through taxpayer dollars as they cycle in and out of jail, detox and hospital emergency rooms — to move directly into their own apartments.

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Cooking for Well-Being with Dr. Carl Clark: Bitter Herb Salad

FOX 31 | May 2, 2024

WellPower's President & CEO, Dr. Carl Clark, joins FOX 31 to talk about the impact of nutrition on well-being. Check out the video to learn about a flavorful and nutritious bitter herb salad recipe. You can also find the whole recipe linked here.

Lawmakers Seek Easier Access to Injections and IVs for Chronic Illness, Cancer Patients

Westword | April 22, 2024

Colorado legislators want to make it easier for people with chronic or severe illnesses to access specialty drugs and treatment from their nearest doctor's office or clinic instead of relying on mail orders or specialty pharmacies in their health insurance networks, but insurers worry doctors and hospitals will increase prices as a result.

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We toured construction at Montbello’s FreshLo Project, which will be home to families, businesses and a mental health center

Denverite | February 16, 2024

If you haven't driven past the corner of Peoria Street and Albrook Drive in the past year, you may have missed the massive building being erected to house families, local businesses and a mental health center.

The Montbello FreshLo Hub broke ground in March 2023 and it is well on its way to be completed after years of community engagement, fundraising processes, the pandemic, inflation, sweat, tears, more engagement, more fundraising... you get the picture.

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Cooking for Well-Being with Dr. Carl Clark

FOX 31 | February 7, 2024

WellPower's President & CEO, Dr. Carl Clark, joins FOX 31 to talk about the impact of nutrition on well-being. Check out the video to learn about a delicious whole roasted Jerk Cauliflower recipe. You can also find the whole recipe linked here.

THERAPY THURSDAY – Michelle Tijerina - Voz y Corazón

The Drop 104.7 | January 25, 2024

Last week on Therapy Thursday, we had Michelle Tijerina from Voz y Corazón to talk about suicide prevention and wellness for youth.

Voz y Corazón focuses on empowering youth voices and hearts through art and connectedness. It is a free community-based support group for youth, focused on self-acceptance, group connection and mentorship – all supported through artistic expression.

It was an impactful and very important conversation. Suicide is it’s not an easy topic to talk about, but it is so important.

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Colorado brewers and bars are creating alcohol free experiences for 'Dry January' and beyond

Denver7 | January 2, 2024

If you’re taking a break from alcohol for “Dry January,” Colorado’s craft beers and social bar experiences are still in reach. As this health trend grows in popularity, businesses on the Front Range are finding ways to offer familiar tastes and festivities without alcohol.

For Keith Villa, the creator of Coors’ Blue Moon, brewing a zero-alcohol beer has taken years of experimentation in a pilot brewery behind his home in Arvada.

“I really was one of those guys who thought, 'You know, the more alcohol the better, the more flavor,'” Villa said. “But as you learn more about the process and about the effects on health, you say, ‘well wait a minute, maybe there's a better way.’”

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Denver Broncos Foundation announces eight grants to nonprofits through 2023 Inspire Change outreach

Denver Broncos Foundation | December 19, 2023

he Denver Broncos Foundation has announced grants to eight nonprofits that will positively impact an estimated 800 justice-involved youth through the team's Inspire Change outreach this season.

The Foundation's Inspire Change initiative is focused on supporting at-risk and justice-involved youth through services aimed at limiting the negative impact of the juvenile justice system.

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Denver considering spending $6M to have mental health clinicians go out with police

The Center Square | December 19, 2023

The city of Denver has proposed a $6 million resolution to continue partnering with the nonprofit WellPower to have mental health clinicians go out with police on calls involving individuals with suspected mental health needs.

Since the pandemic, reports have shown that Colorado, like other states, has seen an increase in mental health needs as Denver continues to invest millions for behavioral health programs.

Denver City Council discussed the proposal at the Dec. 18 meeting, and the resolution would add $2.1 million for a new total of $6 million and extend the contract by 13 months with a new term of Nov. 30, 2024, according to city documents.

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Two Colorado mental health centers merge, creating largest in the state

Colorado Sun | November 16, 2023

Two of Colorado’s community mental health centers will merge in July, creating the largest behavioral health center in the state.

WellPower, which provides mental health services and homeless outreach in Denver, is combining with Jefferson Center, the safety-net mental health organization for Jefferson, Clear Creek and Gilpin counties.

Together, the two have almost 2,000 employees and serve about 48,000 people per year. The centers have mobile medication-assisted treatment for patients addicted to opioids, walk-in crisis centers and outreach programs that send mental health professionals out with RTD workers, law enforcement and park rangers.

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Artificial Intelligence in Mental Health Therapy for Children and Adolescents

American Medical Association & JAMA Pediatrics | October 16, 2023

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that roughly 1 in 5 children have a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder, but fewer than 20% receive care from a mental health specialist. Technology, including tools that use artificial intelligence (AI), has the capacity to be a “workforce multiplier,” in the words of Wes Williams, vice president and chief information officer of WellPower, Colorado’s largest community mental health service. There are particular characteristics of children and adolescents that make the application of AI especially valuable; engagement is a key predictor of intervention effectiveness, and this population uses technology at a higher rate than other
groups and tends to be comfortable with technology in health care settings. The anonymity of machines can help children and adolescents overcome stigma surrounding mental health and is a nonjudgmental resource.

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Youth Program Combatting Suicide Through Art

9NEWS | October 10, 2023

WellPower's Michelle Tijerina showcases how Voz y Corazón has been saving the lives of youth through art for 19 years and counting.

Low-level cases for defendants deemed incompetent

9News | October 4, 2023

When we think of delays in trials caused by competency issues, we think of high-profile cases, like the Boulder King Soopers mass shooting – but there are some people waiting in county jail for low-level crimes like trespassing.

A program at WellPower in Denver is trying to alleviate the wait list for restoration treatment at the state mental health hospital in Pueblo. The goal is to divert people away from the criminal justice system and get them the care they need.

"Everything is halted in jail," said Conor Johnson, a program manager at WellPower.

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Cooking for Well-Being

FOX31 KDVR | September 26, 2023

Our own Dr. Carl Clark joined FOX31's Katie Orth (right) and Lisa D'Souza (left) to show the power of cooking. It's not just about great-tasting food, it is also vital for our well-being.

Many big US cities now answer mental health crisis calls with civilian teams -- not police

AP News | August 27, 2023

DENVER (AP) — Christian Glass was a geology geek, a painter and a young man beset by a mental health crisis when he called 911 for help getting his car unstuck in a Colorado mountain town last year.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived, he refused to get out of the car after saying that supernatural beings were after him, body camera video shows. The officers shouted, threatened and coaxed. Glass made heart shapes with his hands and prayed: “Dear Lord, please, don’t let them break the window.”

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Youth Suicide Prevention

FOX31 Denver | August 18, 2023

Join WellPower's Michelle Tijerina and FOX31's Kirk Yuhnke as they discuss youth suicide prevention, the Voz y Corazon program and ways that youth can find empowerment through art and creativity.

How some police departments are rethinking 911 call responses

wbur | August 14, 2023

Calling 911 can sometimes have tragic consequences for people in mental health crisis.

They can be arrested or even killed.

Some organizations – and police departments – are trying to change that by working with behavioral health professionals.

Today, On Point: Rethinking policing and mental health.

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Mocktails with Dr. Jody Ryan

KWGN Denver | July 26, 2023

Join our own Dr. Jody Ryan and KWGN Denver news anchor Katie Orth in crafting delightful mocktails that make summer even more enjoyable without alcohol.

‘Impactful and beautiful’: how US homeless shelters are getting a radical redesign

The Guardian | June 26, 2023

When a former resident of the Path Home Family Village in Portland, Oregon, called and asked if he and his partner could get married at the shelter, Brandi Tuck, the executive director, knew that the shelter’s redesign had truly worked.

“Homelessness is the hardest, most power-stripping experience a family can have together,” Tuck said. “And for a family to have such a positive, dignified experience and want to come back is just a perfect example of how impactful and beautiful this place is.”

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DEI Awards winner: Dr. Leslye Steptoe

Denver Business Journal | June 23, 2023

Join us in congratulating VP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusiveness Dr. Leslye Steptoe on her recent DEI award.

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Broncos, WellPower join youth experiencing homelessness at Urban Peak for conversation on mental health

Denver Broncos | May 24, 2023

The power of a single conversation should not be doubted.

A trio of Broncos players spent Tuesday evening at Urban Peak Drop-In Center for a facilitated conversation on mental health with youth experiencing homelessness in Denver — and the depth of conversation was evident. Safety Justin Simmons, center Lloyd Cushenberry III and running back Damarea Crockett joined a pair of Denver Broncos Cheerleaders for an hour-long session facilitated by WellPower that focused on the importance of mental health.

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What Defunding the Police Actually Looks Like

The American Prosepct | April 10, 2023

Brandon Johnson, newly elected mayor of Chicago, has called for more resources for community development over increased police budgeting. If Johnson wants to ensure the city has “smart” police, he could look at the plethora of models that demonstrate that the healthiest response to crime and community issues is often not the police at all. Across the country, cities have been experimenting with these community alternatives to policing.

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Another 49 apartments for people experiencing homelessness just opened in Barnum

Denverite | April 6, 2023

On Thursday morning, nonprofit and government leaders cut the ribbon at a 50-unit income-restricted apartment complex, at 203 S. Federal Blvd., in the Barnum neighborhood.

The building will house 49 individuals transitioning out of homelessness and serve individuals making up to $24,650 a year — or 30% of the area median income.

The three-story building is near transit. There’s a dog run and a garden. Tenants will have access to meeting rooms where they’ll receive social and emotional support.

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Rhonda's Place offers 49 new affordable housing units in Denver 

Denver Gazette | April 6, 2023

The latest city-supported affordable housing development, Rhonda’s Place, is already accepting new residents for its one-bedroom apartments and supportive, wrap-around services from Wellpower, according to a news release.

Denver’s Department of Housing Stability (HOST) along with City Council President Jamie Torres held a grand opening Thursday for the 49 supportive housing units, located at 203 S. Federal Blvd. in the Barnum neighborhood.

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Denver Celebrates Opening of 49 Supportive Housing Units

Denver Gov | April 6, 2023

$2.3 million investment from Denver’s voter-approved Homelessness Resolution Fund makes southwest Denver development viable 

Denver’s Department of Housing Stability (HOST) and City Council President Jamie Torres today celebrated the grand opening of 49 new supportive housing units at 203 S. Federal Blvd. in the Barnum neighborhood. Developed by the nonprofit REDI Corporation, Rhonda’s Place offers one-bedroom apartments with supportive wraparound services for individuals transitioning from homelessness, including individuals with disabilities and mental health needs.

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Mental Health experts and park rangers team up to battle homelessness

Scripps News | March 14, 2023

“Today we’re out on patrol. We’re going to both park and trails to follow up on some calls we got,” said Caronia Distefano, a park ranger supervisor in the trails district for the City and County of Denver.

As we drove to a park location, she continued to explain a call she received yesterday.

“We met this man yesterday at a park after getting a call from maintenance,” she said. “At about 6:30 am he gave me a call and said it was a bad night, he was cold, and he wanted to get in somewhere.”

Traditionally, park rangers respond to calls in our parks to enforce rules. This can include telling people experiencing homelessness that they can’t camp in a certain area.

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The park ranger, the mental health worker and the endless hurdles they face to help people on Denver's streets

The Colorado Sun | March 10, 2023

The woman was hidden under a blanket along a chain-link fence when park ranger Caronia DiStefano called out, “Hey there! Can you please poke out and talk to us?”

The red-haired woman in her mid-40s sat up, startled, wondering whether she was about to get kicked out of her outdoor bed on a chilly March morning. Downtown Denver’s skyline rose in the east, and downhill from her resting spot near Sheridan Station, a man aggressively tossed an electric scooter from a bridge. It crashed onto the sidewalk below and he shouted obscenities at the park ranger.

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Jeannie Ritter, Colorado’s former first lady, is still working to break mental health stigma

The Colorado Sun | March 9, 2023

Jeannie Ritter jokes that she could have chosen bicycle helmets as her “first lady cause” while her husband, Bill, was Colorado governor. At least she could have counted the number of children who received a helmet and declared her goal achieved.

Instead, the former teacher who grew up in a family affected by severe mental illness, chose something much messier. She spent four years traveling Colorado to talk about mental health, ditching the pantsuits early on for a jean jacket and cowboy boots, all part of her plan to seem more approachable and get people to open up about their struggles.

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Denver's police alternative STAR program continues expansion

Denver 7 ABC | March 28, 2023

DENVER – The Denver City Council will consider another contract to help the STAR (Support Team Assisted Response) program continue its expansion.

The STAR program, which is a collaborative partnership between several community agencies, responds to non-violent emergency calls in Denver with a two-person team that includes an EMT and a mental health clinician.

The program was designed to minimize police interactions with citizens experiencing mental health issues.

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Tent city bans haven't solved America's homelessness crisis. A Denver program is trying something new: Compassion.

USA Today | February 5, 2023

Melting snow mingled with broken hypodermic needles on the park's grass as a ranger and a mental health counselor walked together.

Feet crunching across ice and scattered glass, Jodie Marozas and Tom Kaiser trod across what was once the crown jewel of Denver: Civic Center Park. Its history spans a century, back to a time when it was known for its architecture, concerts and plays.

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USA Today Front Page

Denver Park Rangers to perform patrols with mental health clinicians

Denver 7 ABC | January 19, 2023

As those with the Denver Park Rangers do their patrols through city parks and trails, they have one goal.

"Denver park rangers are responsible for keeping the parks safe for the people for the parks and keeping people safe," said Senior Park Ranger Corey Beaton.

That typically means enforcing rules and writing tickets, but oftentimes, the situations they handle are more complicated than that.

"It might be easy to see someone who's camping illegally in the park and say, "Oh, I want to call the police and have them move right away,"'' said Tom Kaiser, a mental health clinician with WellPower. "That person has a story. That person has a lot of systems and experiences that have failed them in the past, and that's why they've gotten to that point."

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Mental health co-responders now roll with Denver Park Rangers

Denverite | January 12, 2023

In 2020, as protests against police brutality overtook Denver’s streets, the city launched a long-planned program to remove officers from situations that would be better served by social workers.

And so Support Team Assisted Response, widely known as STAR, began with a single van and a limited pilot to see how things would go. Their most common mission: to help people living outside or dealing with addiction instead of handing out a citation.

The program has grown since those early days, and now it has a cousin dedicated specifically to Denver’s green spaces.

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Mental health counselors added to patrols at Denver parks, trails

FOX31 | January 10, 2023

The city of Denver is pioneering a new program that pairs up therapists and park rangers to help people experiencing homelessness and drug use in city-owned parks and trails.

“What we do is have a mental health clinician come on our patrols with us and help us on tougher contacts with individuals who might be experiencing homelessness or addiction,” park ranger Caronia Distefano said.

She said the contacts with individuals needing help have become increasingly more common across Denver. In the past, rangers would call Denver police who already have a team of co-responders trained in de-escalation and crisis support.

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Start the New Year on the healthy side by going dry in January

FOX31 | January 5, 2023

After the holidays, some people are staying sober during “Dry January” and Dr. Jody Ryan with WellPower says that’s a great way to start the new year.

For decades, cutting back on alcohol has been a common New Year’s resolution. Dry January is a newer trend that started as a public health challenge in the UK in 2013 – but it has gained a widespread following. In fact, 35% of U.S. adults reported taking part in Dry January in 2022.

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