Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO of Mental Health America took the stage at the MHAC Tribute event Saturday night to talk about his book, “Losing Tim.” Mr. Gionfriddo’s 29-year-old son is one of the 6% of Americans with a serious mental illness and is walking the streets of San Francisco, homeless. What does that tell you, when the president of one of the largest mental health organizations in the country and his family are still impacted by the stigma and devastation of mental illness….it can strike anywhere, anytime, and it’s a good bet that all of us are affected in some way.

Mental Health America Colorado (MHAC) is taking a proactive role in addressing mental health conditions. The strategic plan encompasses three major goals: broker change, reduce stigma and improve lives. They seek to improve and address the dismal ranking of 48th place in the nation in per capita funding for behavioral health services.

A jovial but humble crowd gathered at the Sheraton Downtown to continue this mission. Proceeds from Tribute support MHAC’s efforts in outreach, education, prevention and advocacy to lift stigma and improve the lives of all Coloradoans.

Two honorees were recognized for their incredible, forward-seeking work in these areas:

  • Marguerite Salazar, Colorado’s Insurance Commissioner, who has worked tirelessly to address the parity between mental and physical conditions and corresponding funding and advocacy;
  • Colorado College, who supports and nurtures mental health programs and students who reach out for help.

MHAC President and CEO Don Mares gave a heartfelt thank you to attendees and supporters, and Board Chair Marty Waters told a surprising story of how his mental outlook was affected after he was caught in an avalanche several years ago and used up at least one of his nine lives.

After the order of business was taken care of, the crowd cut loose and danced the night away to the upbeat tunes of Jakarta. Kudos to MHAC staff, volunteers and supporters who keep the mission going consistently.

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