Mental health can hinge on economic opportunity
Thank you for your ongoing coverage of the efforts to improve mental health services in Colorado. As a young person, many of my peers have been impacted by family and academic pressure, struggles with mental illness, and unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse to handle stress.
However, I feel we often miss a critical piece of the puzzle in conversations about mental health: the generationally-specific crises of economic inequality and job insecurity, which are making these symptoms especially severe.
As Colorado’s rapid economic growth creates increasing wealth disparities, the costs of falling behind have never been greater. The pressure to secure a job and achieve financial security is a constant source of stress for young people, and contributes to the health concerns highlighted in your series. For example, Colorado young adults face higher rates of unemployment compared to older adults, and we know that there are stark racial disparities. The Colorado Center on Law and Policy found that black Coloradans were underemployed or unemployed at a rate nearly twice that of white Coloradans, meaning young people of color are feeling these pressures even more acutely than their white peers.
To best serve Denver’s youth and help them stay healthy, we need policies that tackle growing economic inequality, and make sure quality job opportunities, affordable health care and an adequate education are available to every Colorado student.
Guv’s veto was a vote for cleaner air, better health
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) greatly appreciates that Gov. Hickenlooper has prioritized the health of Colorado residents and tourists by vetoing House Bill 1258. This bill would have allowed marijuana retailers to set up licensed onsite consumption rooms for people to sample marijuana with electronic smoking devices.
HB 1258 sought to compromise public health, put lives at risk and weaken Colorado’s smoke-free law, and ACS CAN believes everyone has the right to breathe clean air free from secondhand cigarette smoke, marijuana smoke and aerosol from e-cigarettes. Using these products in public undermines the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act that protects people from harmful secondhand smoke exposure in most public places.
When Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana with Amendment 64, they prohibited it in a manner that endangers others. Smoking marijuana, including using it in e-cigarettes, exposes people to potential health hazards in marijuana smoke. Not only that, but e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless. It can contain many harmful chemicals including nicotine, heavy metals like lead and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs, among other things.
Colorado communities have been strengthening their local smoke-free protections to include marijuana and e-cigarettes, and this bill would have reversed all this progress. Governor Hickenlooper, thanks for your stand to protect people from secondhand smoke.
R.J. OursColorado government relations directorAmerican Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkDenver
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