Mental Health Issues:
Entering Into Daylight


By Mary Sterritt, Colorado Hands & Voices

It is not an uncommon experience across the nation for many parents, who seek mental health or substance abuse services for their deaf or hard of hearing children, not to be able to find services that are able to address the unique needs including their culture, language and preferred mode of communication. Children often go untreated or may not receive the equivalent services. The life long impact can be devastating. While Colorado has also faced that challenge there is a very exciting effort underway to change that. We want Colorado to be known for its accessibility.

Enter the Daylight Project! What is the Daylight Project?  The Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing developed Colorado’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Mental Health and Substance Abuse Action Plan in 2008 with funding by the Division of Healthcare/Department of Human Services.  It addressed the barriers to access experienced by deaf and hard of hearing Coloradans. In September 2009 the Mental Health Center of Denver in partnership with the Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing were funded by the Department of Human Services’ Statewide Strategic Use Funds for a 22 month project to increase the capacity of public mental health and substance abuse providers to serve deaf and hard of hearing children and families. This became the Daylight Project, so named as it brings daylight, if not hope, advancing access to mental health and substance abuse services to deaf and hard of hearing Coloradans. In effect, we want to know what providers across the state need, where the need is, and provide the training and support to fulfill that need. We want consumers of services and their family to know when services are needed and how to effectively advocate in getting the services.

How do we plan to do this? The Daylight Project focuses on developing consumer and family leadership, assessing the training and technology needs of publicly funded mental health and substance abuse providers, providing technical and clinical training, developing guidelines for services, project evaluation and sustainability planning. The project is rich in participation from providers working with deaf and hard of hearing children in education, mental health, and other areas. Colorado Families for Hands & Voices is participating in this project, and hopes to bring further education and involvement to this important topic.

We need your help! If you have experience with attempting to access services in Colorado for your family or child there are three ways you can support this project: joining the consumer and family leadership group, participate in our training on how to become an advocate,  help us by advocating with your mental health center to complete our assessment survey being disseminated this month.  Please contact Mary Sterritt at or voice: 303-504-6521  video phone: 720-949-7484 

See  for more information on the Action Plan and Daylight Project. ~

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