In partnership with the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council (CBHC), the Behavioral Health and Wellness Program (BHWP) launched a new innovative project—sponsored by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)—in July 2020. The Whole Health Innovation in a Time of Uncertainty project is focused on reinvigorating whole health programming, including nicotine-free environments. To accomplish this goal, the Whole Health Innovation project will initially conduct an environmental scan of current nicotine/tobacco-free policies among Colorado’s 19 principal behavioral health entities to establish a baseline snapshot. This information will be combined with input and feedback from Colorado’s behavioral health entities, along with a review of existing national nicotine/tobacco-free policies and key informant interviews, to create a model nicotine-free policy for dissemination across Colorado. We will also be offering training opportunities to participating organizations to empower them to effectively refine and/or implement their nicotine-free policies and to strengthen whole health programming.
This project is of critical importance during this unprecedented time. As many providers are currently working offsite, now is an ideal time to consider agencies’ campuses and grounds, as well as offsite policies. For instance, in navigating the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, all agencies must consider how to integrate telehealth services into nicotine-free policy language. They may also need to analyze how ever-emerging electronic nicotine devices and marijuana are addressed. The project will reorient agencies to the latest evidence-base regarding the foundation for nicotine-free policies and offer unique considerations for navigating the challenges presented by the pandemic. Ultimately, the project intends to prepare behavioral health entities across Colorado to effectively offer whole health care to their clients and to assure that Colorado remains a national leader in this field.
The first year of the project culminated in the creation and release of a model nicotine-free policy (NFP) for use at a diverse range of healthcare and behavioral health agencies across Colorado and nationwide. The model NFP was released in June 2021 and is free to download.