A brief and fast-moving thunderstorm in downtown Denver did not hinder some 150 guests from attending the June 11th Mental Health America Colorado‘s annual 2nd Annual “Improving Lives, Transforming Minds” (ILTM) event honoring organizations and individual mental health advocates.

Held at the Green Spaces venue in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood, newly appointed President/CEO Andrew Romanoff mingled with supporters during a reception featuring live music, heavy hors d’oeuvres and bar. Romanoff was appointed MHAC director after the departure of Don Mares, named Denver’s first Director of the Denver Office of Behavioral Strategies by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

The ILTM party celebrates MHAC’s education, prevention and outreach programs including Check Your Head, Pro Bono Counseling & Referral Program, Brain Trust & Speaker Spotlight Series and Mental Health First Aid.

MHAC Events & Corporate Relations Coordinator Beth Danilson kept the party organized with help from Event Committee Members, Board and MHAC staff members. Staffers Laura Cordes, Mike Robbins, Amanda Chaney, Bianca Mikahn, Jamie Gulick and dedicated volunteers ensured success of the fun-filled event for a serious cause made possible by Presenting Sponsor Citywide Banks. Other support included: Gold Sponsors: Bernie & Mary Beth Buescher, Michael & Pegi Touff, GlaxoSmithKline, Mines & Associates; and Silver Sponsor: Peak View Behavioral Health.

MHAC staff and volunteers hosted several interactive wellness stations that gave a first-hand view of many mental health educational programs and techniques. Among the most popular booths were the Mental Healthies (photo selfie) station hosted by MHAC Office Manager Leslie Bailey and a creative coloring station hosted by MHAC Pro Bono Program Coordinator Tiffany Lloyd.

For the awards presentation Romanoff acknowledged his hard working staff, sponsors and guests. He also saluted the Climb Out of the Darkness Expedition helping raise awareness of mental health issues with a goal of climbing Colorado’s 54 Fourteeners in 10 weeks. The 7-member climbing team led by Anthony Reinert set out June 8th and expects to complete their mission by mid-August. (To track their progress visit: cotdexpedition.wix.com/cotd and Facebook/Climb Out of the Darkness Expedition)

The Sandra Rhodes Community Leader Award was presented to nationally recognized business psychology firm Mines and Associates for their managed behavioral health care and employee assistance programs that help address the mental health needs of Coloradans. The award is named after lifelong mental health advocate Rhodes, who has served as a mental health professional for The Gathering Place, Colorado Youth at Risk and received the Mental Health America National Award for volunteer service in 2010.

High school students Jasmine Valdez and Darius Wimberly won the MHAC Youth Leadership Award for tackling the mental health stigma head-on by speaking publicly about mental wellness and lessons they have learned from Check Your Head.

Now celebrating its 65th Anniversary, the national Mental Health America (MHA) organization and affiliates are promoting the B4Stage4 campaign which emphasizes prevention and treatment of mental health issues with the motto: Get Informed, Get Screened, Get Help. MHA studies indicate that 1 in 5 American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year and that 50% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life.

MHAC’s Annual Gala, Tribute 2015, will take place on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown. To volunteer, donate or attend an MHAC event please call 720-208-2220 or visit mhacolorado.org