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Kim Floyde

Group of teenagers

Welcome to Rainbow Space

By | CMH Blog

Welcome to Rainbow Space: A Safe, Supportive Place for LGBTQ+ Youth in Montrose

Rainbow Space: A Safe, Supportive Place for LGBTQ+ Youth in MontroseSo, you’ve been hearing around town about this Rainbow Space, but you find yourself thinking, “What in the world is that?” Rainbow Space is a safe zone for LGBTQ+ youth in middle and high school to hang out and support one another. It is hosted at the Youth Access Center (YAC) every Wednesday from 4pm-6pm. Our mission is to offer a safe, nonjudgmental, and visible space for LGBTQ+ youth, families, and allies in our community.

Each week, we provide a place for teens to come together with like-minded others for fun, food, games, support, community guest presentations, and more! At Rainbow Space, teens can find a supportive adult to talk to, learn more about LGBTQ+ topics in a friendly environment, and find ways to deal with the stress of being a teenager.

Now you find yourself thinking, “Does Montrose need this? Here? Really?”

The answer to this is yes, and here’s why. Research shows that when LGBTQ+ teens form a relationship with a supportive adult, their risk of suicide drops from 57% to 4%. Further, their reported life-satisfaction increases from 33% to 72%. But those are just a bunch of numbers. What are teens themselves saying about Rainbow Space? Check out what they think in their own words:

  • “This is my favorite part of the week; I look forward to every Wednesday so I can come here.”
  • “Before Rainbow Space, I had never been around other LGBTQ people my age.”
  • “I was nervous to come because I am very anxious around new people, but everyone here is so welcoming and supportive, I feel like I have already made new friends.”
  • “I feel safe and supported here.”
  • “I don’t have any friends.” — “I don’t ever want to hear you say that again, you have friends now, and it’s all of us.”

So yes, Rainbow Space is important. It is helping teens to stay alive, to feel connected and supported.  Now that you’re on board, how can you help support Rainbow Space?

  • Attend – If you are a middle schooler or high schooler in Montrose or the surrounding area, come out and join us. We meet every Wednesday from 4pm-6pm at the Youth Access Center (YAC, inside of CASA) at 147 N. Townsend Ave., Montrose.
  • Promote – Tell your friends, your kids, your kid’s friends: we want everyone in town to know about us!
  • Follow Us Online – We are on social media! Be sure to “like” and “follow” our pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat for the latest info.
  • Volunteer – We are always accepting new adult mentors. Please reach out to us at RainbowSpaceMontrose@Outlook.com to find out more about our volunteer process.
  • Donate – We are always accepting financial donations to support our group. If money isn’t your thing, we also accept donations of hot meals to be served at our community dinner. Please reach out to us at RainbowSpaceMontrose@Outlook.com if you would like to donate.
The Center For Mental Health Visits State Capitol To Ask Legislators To Help Increase Access To Behavioral Healthcare

CMH Visits State Capitol for CBHC Annual Lobby Day

By | News, Press Release

The Center For Mental Health Visits State Capitol To Ask Legislators To Help Increase Access To Behavioral Healthcare

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact
Jackie Brown-Griggs
303-300-2255

Montrose, Colorado – January 15, 2020 – The Center for Mental Health will be at the State Capitol building on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 for Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council (CBHC) annual Lobby Day at the Capitol. This signature day for CBHC highlights the importance of Colorado’s community behavioral health system which includes The Center for Mental Health. The Center for Mental Health provides critical behavioral health services to the residents of Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties. During meetings with legislators, The Center for Mental Health will discuss mental health and substance use disorder needs with the hope of gaining support for local efforts.

This year, the Lobby Day at the Capitol will be focusing on the severe need to strengthen the system’s workforce through increased reimbursement, salaries, and retention strategies such as student loan forgiveness.  Over the past 21 years, community provider inflationary increases have fallen so far behind that providers have lost more than 36.7% of their spending power as compared to the inflation rate across our state. Additionally, compared to state employee salary survey increases, community providers have lagged by 33.5%. As this issue has continued to worsen over the years, it has caused a shortage of behavioral health providers who serve our most vulnerable populations. It is crucial that efforts be taken to close this funding gap.

The Center for Mental Health will also be lobbying to increase opportunities to expand Mental Health First Aid, an eight-hour course which teaches the signs and symptoms of someone in a behavioral health crisis. Proposed legislation would appropriate funding to the Colorado Department of Education to contract for a train-the-trainer program designed to increase behavioral health training opportunities for K-12 educators and faculty. The Center for Mental Health is very pleased that this legislation will be a top priority as the bill, SB20-001, was the first to be introduced in the Senate in 2020.

The Center for Mental Health looks forward to meeting with legislators during the first days of the 2020 legislative session to ensure that Coloradans in our service area can access excellent and affordable behavioral health care. To learn more about the legislative efforts, visit cbhc.org.

The Center for Mental Health is a nonprofit organization seeking to promote mental health and well-being. It provides behavioral healthcare services through more than ten facilities across 10,000 square miles serving the residents of Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties. Visit centermh.org to learn more.

Center for Mental Health, Crested Butte

A Valuable Community Resource

By | Media Coverage, News

“There was no guilt, no shame, and that’s how mental health should be treated”

“We live in paradise. How could anyone feel depressed here?”

It’s a difficult and extremely personal headspace to understand, recalls 33-year local Ian Hatchett, as so many of us were drawn to this town for its beauty, recreation, culture and community. But living here can also be trying, and isolating if you don’t know who or where to turn. Hatchett experienced this difficulty firsthand, but also found a safe haven with the Center for Mental Health (CMH).

After facing back-to-back heart surgeries in 2018, “I gradually went into a very deep, dark depression,” said Hatchett. “Sometimes life can just stack up against you. It was new terrain for me. I didn’t really understand what was happening to me.”

Even though he had no prior history of depression, Hatchett recalls his struggle. “I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t know how to reach out and felt incredible guilt. I had given up. I had never given up anything ever in my life. Suicide is really disproportionately prevalent in our community and I went very close.”

Fortunately, his friends recognized a need for help and took him to the Center for Mental Health in Gunnison. “We live in a village and my friends realized something was going on. I’m really lucky they were looking after me. They knew.”

Ian speaks highly of his experience with CMH, which now has a new location in Crested Butte. He says, “There’s an amazing level of compassion there and they help people who are in a really bad place. There was no guilt, no shame, and that’s how mental health should be treated.”

The Center for Mental Health provides behavioral health services through more than 10 facilities across the Western Slope and opened a Crested Butte location this summer in collaboration with Gunnison Valley Health.

Rural suicide rates are consistently higher than those in urban areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We know we live in a rural community and we know there’s a stigma around mental health,” explained Kimberly Behounek, the Center for Mental Health’s regional director for Gunnison and Crested Butte. Unfortunately, Colorado has one of the highest suicide rates in the country and that rate is especially prevalent along the Western Slope, as reported by the Colorado Institute of Health.

This time of year can be particularly tough for people, explained CMH CEO Shelly Spaulding. “Part of the challenge is there are so many images through social media and TV in what the perfect holidays are supposed to look like,” she said. “And for so many people the perfect holiday is not their actual experience and that adds to any emotional turmoil they might be experiencing.” Financial stress at the end of the year, and shorter and darker winter days are also factors that can contribute, she said.

However, the new CMH Crested Butte location is a significant resource to providing the north end of the valley easier access to mental health care. CMH offers a number of mental health services, including peer support, substance use counseling, mental health therapy and medication management. According to Spaulding, the Crested Butte location has seen 223 new patients through November since opening this June.

CMH is currently working on increasing its staff and services to meet the needs of the community. “We are essentially looking to double our capacity for therapy starting in January,” said Behounek.

Behounek commends the professionalism and high skill level of the Crested Butte staff, which includes psychiatric nurse practitioner Laura Rogers, who worked previously at the Gunnison location. “There’s not another licensed nurse like her in the Crested Butte community,” said Behounek. “Having Laura in-person year-round has been tremendous for our community.”

Hatchett praises the team as well. “The people who work there are full of compassion and it’s a very welcoming place. I was connected with a brilliant therapist who was very smart and very funny. They made a really big effort to customize their therapeutic tools to fit me. There was a deep commitment from [my therapist] to get me up and keep going.”

Part-time Crested Butte resident and philanthropist Paul Uhl connected with the CMH after experiencing tragedy when his son Kyle died by suicide in October 2018. Uhl said being able to talk about it was not only therapeutic, but he was also motivated to help contribute to the opening of the Crested Butte location and help those in need of affordable mental health care.

During Kyle’s celebration of life, Uhl’s family and friends raised close to $12,000 for the CMH, specifically to help patients who can’t afford mental health care. Through fundraising, the CMH strives to provide services free of charge if a patient does not have health insurance.

Uhl also spearheads CMH’s Trek for Life, an annual fundraiser event in memory of Kyle to raise suicide awareness and prevention. The event follows one of Kyle’s favorite hikes from Crested Butte over West Maroon Pass. This year’s September event raised almost $20,000 for CMH and individuals in the Crested Butte community who don’t have insurance or cannot afford mental health care.

Uhl hopes to expand the 2020 Trek for Life into a two-day event, with one day for the hike and the second day being a community event in town. “We really want to reach out the Crested Butte community more effectively,” said Uhl. “We want to be able to help those individuals in the community here who really need it and would benefit from this.”

There were four suicides in Crested Butte in 2018, and the CMH hopes to avoid this tragedy affecting the community in the future. This year, the CMH also opened a Crisis Walk-In Center in Montrose, which provides urgent help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. “In the last four months we’ve seen more than 100 people come over for services in the walk-in clinic,” said Spaulding. “If you have a friend or a loved one who you’re worried about, you can always reach out and talk to someone. I don’t want people to feel like they’re alone.”

“A lot of people come here to go skiing or hiking or biking and enjoy the outdoors, but there’s a chasm between the people who live and work here and those who come here to recreate,” said Uhl. “I hope we can build awareness and help people get through the difficult times. We have a long way to go but I’m encouraged by what’s been accomplished since the CMH has been open these past six months. The more we get people talking about it, I think we can help.”

“There’s a community resource right here for mental health,” Hatchett emphasized. “If you’ve got a problem with your car, you take it to the mechanic. If you’ve got a toothache, you go to the dentist. It shouldn’t be any different with mental health. I hope we as a community can keep our eyes open to friends showing signs of depression and withdrawal. This town really rallied around me. Because of them, I’m back and a contributing member of our beautiful community.”

Take care of one another. If you, a friend or loved one is in need of help, contact the Center for Mental Health by phone (970) 252-6220, or text “talk” to 38255 to connect with a national crisis counselor. The Center for Mental Health in Crested Butte at 214 Sixth St., Suite 4 is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed for lunch from 1 to 2 p.m.). The Montrose Crisis Walk-In Center provides urgent help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No insurance is needed. GVH’s peer support specialist program has also been expanded to 24-hour, seven days a week service.

Crested Butte News
Written by Kendra Walker
Crested Butte News | December 18, 2019
 Print or download article
Depression Help

CMH Helping Combat Depression and Anxiety Over The Holidays

By | News, Press Release

The Center for Mental Health Committed to Helping Our Communities Combat Depression and Anxiety Over the Holidays

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact
Jackie Brown-Griggs
303-300-2255

Montrose, Colorado — December 17, 2019 — With the holidays in full swing, The Center for Mental Health (CMH) wants to inform and remind the community of the local behavioral resources available. These resources are especially critical if someone on the Western Slope is feeling hopeless or having suicidal thoughts, or knows of someone who is. CMH recently expanded behavioral healthcare offerings across the region, so finding urgent mental health care is easier than ever before.

Although the holidays are promoted as a time for family and fun, not everyone feels festive. In fact, the holidays are a time when depression and sadness can really set in. “We recognize that this is the time of year when people can feel increasingly isolated and alone,” said Shelly J. Spalding, CEO of The Center for Mental Health. “We have expanded our care on the Western Slope in the effort to helping those who need counseling or crisis services this time of year.”

To better serve their six-county service area, CMH opened new locations in Telluride and Crested Butte, and a brand new Crisis Walk-In Center (CWC) in Montrose. Services have been expanded in several of CMH’s Western Slope locations to meet the needs of the community. “Our Crisis Walk-In Center is open every day, including Christmas. Anyone, of any age may walk in if they feel in danger of hurting themselves or others, or just can’t cope and don’t know where to turn” said Amanda Jones, Chief Clinical Officer. “When we opened our Crisis Walk-in Center in September, we had a number of local teens who needed support to cope with suicidal thoughts and other crises. We are a safe place, close to home, where they can be treated with their family during a difficult time,” said Jones.

Unfortunately, suicide has impacted almost everyone at some time in their life. It maybe the loss of a close friend or family member, a member of the community, or even hearing about it on the news. At times, we may worry that someone we know and love might be in danger of hurting themselves. So, in addition to offering urgent care for those in crisis, CMH provides classes in Mental Health First Aid and suicide prevention strategies such as Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and Question Persuade and Refer (QPR) so people can recognize danger signs and have tools to help others.

“I wasn’t on anyone’s radar,” said Ian Hatchett of Crested Butte. “I was happy, engaged in my social circles, and employed in a career as a mountain guide. Then, I experienced the perfect storm of personal issues that led me down a dangerous path. If it weren’t for the combination of my friends, my therapist, and The Center for Mental Health, I simply wouldn’t be here today. I will do anything in my power to share my experience in the hopes that I can make a difference in someone’s life.”

Hatchett isn’t alone, in fact, suicide rates nationally are on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicides are the leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 and the fourth leading cause of death among adults 35 to 54 years old. In fact, there were more than twice as many suicides (47,173) in the United States as there were homicides (19,510) in 2018. Unfortunately, Colorado’s Western Slope has higher suicide rates than Colorado’s more urban areas. This is consistent with the situation in rural communities across the country.

According to the Colorado Institute of Health, Colorado has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, and that rate is especially prevalent in the state’s southwestern corner and the Western Slope. “We know that as a rural area, we need to be on higher alert to those who feel lost and alone,” added Spalding. “We have assembled an esteemed staff of professionals who know what to look for and who understand how to treat someone who is feeling hopeless,” said Kimberly Behounek, The Center’s Regional Director for Gunnison and Crested Butte.

“I had reached my lowest point and had given up,” added Hatchett. “Luckily, my therapist at CMH had the right suitcase of skills and gave me permission to forgive myself for giving up. As a nation, we need to demystify the process of mental healthcare and break the prejudices around it.” When Hatchett needed help, he traveled to Gunnison to get care. “They didn’t have anything available near me in Crested Butte at the time, but now CMH has an office right here.”

“We recognized that easier access to quality behavioral health is one fundamental and unique challenge that we could address.” said Spalding. “We still have a way to go, but we have made a lot of progress in making mental healthcare more accessible in our community by providing more local providers and new, convenient locations.”
The Center for Mental Health offers the following short list of risk factors associated with the possibility for suicidal behavior:

RISK FACTORS FOR SUICIDE (suicidepreventionlifeline.org)

  • History of mental health issues
  • Alcohol and other substance use and abuse
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Major physical illnesses
  • Previous suicide attempt(s) or family history of suicide
  • Loss of relationship(s), job, or financial loss
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation or hopelessness
  • Stigma associated with asking for help
  • Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Local clusters of suicide or exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

Knowing the warning signs may help determine if you, a friend, or loved one is at risk for suicide. If so, please call The Center for Mental Health Crisis Line at 970.252.6220 (locally). People can also call Colorado Crisis Services at 1-800-493-TALK (8255) or text “TALK” to 38255 (statewide).

SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS (suicidepreventionlifeline.org)

  • Expressing the desire to die or to kill themselves
  • Researching ways to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling hopeless, trapped, in pain, or having no reason to live
  • Expressing concern about being a burden to others
  • Behaving recklessly
  • Increasing alcohol and substance use
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Extreme mood swings

The Center for Mental Health provides help by phone, online, or in person:

Phone: If in crisis, please call our 24/7 confidential crisis line at 970.252.6220 or text TALK to 38255 to connect with a crisis counselor.
Online: Using CMH’s confidential, free, and quick self-screening tool, you can assess your mental health situation online.
In-Person: The Center for Mental Health has locations across the Western Slope — you can make an appointment or walk-in for help at centermh.org/locations.

Take a Mental Health First Aid Class: View our calendar of events to find a training class near you.

Crisis Walk-In-Center: The Crisis Walk-in Center in Montrose provides urgent behavioral health to anyone in our region. If you think you or someone you know is in danger of hurting themselves, walk in 24-hours a day, 365 days a year for help. No insurance is needed.

The Center for Mental Health is a nonprofit organization seeking to promote mental health and well-being. It provides behavioral healthcare services through more than ten facilities across 10,000 square miles including Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel Counties. Visit www.centermh.org to learn more.

# # #

Girls drinking coffee at Christmas

4 Things NOT to Say to Those Coping With Substance Use

By | CMH Blog

4 Things Not to Say to Someone Who Struggles with Substance Use Over the Holidays (and 4 Things to Say Instead)

The holidays are a challenging time for many of us. This is especially true for friends and family who may be struggling to overcome addictions or with the unhealthy use of cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol. Below are ways to start conversations this holiday season that are more productive and are less painful to those struggling with addictions.

Use the following suggestions to get those conversations off on the right foot.

1. Rather than asking, “Why haven’t you stopped that already?”
Try this instead: “I can see that you’re trying to make some changes. I’m happy for you!”

For many people, recovery from using a substance is a long journey. Whether it is cigarettes, alcohol, or heroin, it’s rarely easy to change. Substance use is more than just a behavior that we can choose to start or stop. Substances have an impact on the way our brains work, forcing us to change our brain chemistry AND our patterns of behavior when we stop using them. This isn’t easy! If you have a family member who is trying to change their substance use, this may be a big challenge for them, and they need your support. Recognizing that someone is making an effort can have a big impact.

2. Rather than saying, “That’s disgusting.”
Try this instead: “I appreciate that you’re trying to cut back. Let’s catch up some more inside when you have a minute.”

Some substances can be pretty unpleasant. For example, not everyone enjoys the aroma of cigarette smoke. The loved one who is using knows this and they’re not trying to be disrespectful. If being around it bothers you feel free to move away, but make sure your loved one understands that it’s not them you’re moving away from, it’s the substance.

Substance use can be perpetuated by feelings of shame. Telling someone they are gross, or that they smell, or that they are a failure for still using will not help them to change their use. In fact, it can make that use worse.

3. Rather than saying, “You know, my coworker’s nephew’s neighbor’s roommate tried hypnotism / acupuncture / medication / therapy / dancing naked under the full moon and it worked great for him. You should try it!”
Try this instead: “How can I support you?”

There are tons of different options for treating substance use. There are medical interventions, evidence-based therapy practices, alternative medicines, peer recovery programs, and more. Unlike those ugly holiday socks, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for substance use. What worked for your coworker’s nephew’s neighbor’s roommate might work for your family member, or it might not. You certainly don’t want them to feel like a failure if they have already tried that hypnotism/acupuncture/medication/therapy option and it didn’t work for them. The best thing you can do is offer support for your loved one. It’s best to offer suggestions only when asked.

4. Rather than saying, “Don’t come over until you’re off of that stuff.”
Try this instead: “I want you to know that I care about you. Want to get some coffee?”

Maybe you’re really not comfortable with any substance use, or you have a child with an allergy to cigarette smoke. There may be any number of other reasons that you’re not ready to open your home to your loved one who is still struggling. It is possible to set a clear boundary and still be supportive. If the boundary means spending time together outside of your home, then that’s fine! Just be sure to follow through. If you say you’re going to get some coffee, then get some coffee. Show your family member that even though you don’t accept their use of substances, you still accept them as a person.

Want more information? Visit findtreatment.gov and nami.org for more resources for family members. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to The Center for Mental Health to learn more about the treatments we offer at 970.252.3200 or visit our website at centermh.org.

Mom soldier embracing little girl

Moral Injury

By | CMH Blog

The daughter of a U.S. Marine veteran didn’t understand why her father kept hiding his Honorable Discharge in a drawer. “He earned it on Guadalcanal” she said. “He’s a hero.” Her father had been known in the community for helping people in need for forty years. But with his daughter in the other room he whispered, “I’m a fake. Everybody thinks I’m good, but they don’t know what I did.”

The U.S. Marine veteran could be suffering from Moral Injury. Moral Injury occurs when a person acts in a way that they think is wrong, watches someone else commit wrongdoing, or fails to prevent a wrong.

Looking out the window at some unseen thing a thousand yards away, the marine remembered: “One night I was separated from my squad. To stay alive, I fired on anything that moved.” After pausing he continued, “There were other marines in the jungle.”

No evidence exists that he harmed anyone, friend or foe. But with a moral injury it isn’t evidence that matters, it is belief. The marine believed he had harmed or killed other marines. And he believed that doing so was unforgivable. Once home, he had tried to sweep away his guilt and shame by helping other people. Those he helped told him he was the nicest person they ever met. At times he almost believed them. Until the sun dipped, shadowing a bush like Guadalcanal. And he remembered the other marines in the jungle.

Common symptoms of moral injury are:

  • Reliving the event when something triggers the memory.
  • Experiencing disruptive feelings like guilt, shame, fear, anger, and anxiety.
  • Avoiding situations and places that resemble the person, place, or experience.
  • Having trust issues.
  • Substance abuse—which can either be long term, or occasional benders.

If someone you care about has these symptoms once a month or once a year, they may have a moral injury—even if they didn’t go to war: training accidents and illegal orders happen in times of peace. You don’t have to be a veteran either—law enforcement, first responders, first receivers, and corrections staff, are all at risk for moral injury every time they go to work.

Moral injuries hurt. Beliefs about bearing pain in silence, about suffering being part of atonement, and thinking that what someone experienced “wasn’t that bad” can cause the injured to deny treatment. They may think that they aren’t injured. But symptoms don’t lie. You don’t have to live with moral pain.

Life can get better, much better. With help, you or your loved one can learn how to respond to negative thoughts and emotions. You can learn what to do when painful or troubling memories disrupt the peace. There are ways of coping that don’t involve passing out in a puddle of vomit, having a screaming fight, or quitting your job.

Moral anguish disrupts a person’s narrative and blurs the sense of self. Healing starts with the injured exploring their beliefs about who they are, and what they believe about the world they live in. The Center for Mental Health is here to help.

The Center for Mental Health has several professionals on staff who have been specially trained in effective treatments for moral injury, as well as PTSD. Call us at 970.252.3200 to find a provider or email info@centermh.org and we will reach out to you directly.

Crisis Walk-In Center in Montrose

KJCT8 News: Montrose Crisis Walk-In Center Open for a Month

By | Media Coverage, News

It’s been a little over a month since the mental health Crisis Walk-In Center in Montrose opened its doors.

Since it opened on September 16th, staff there say they’ve seen about 30 walk-in patients.

The center offers things like a 24-hour detox facility, and staffed mental health professionals to help anyone going through a mental crisis.

They say a big goal is to take pressure off of local emergency rooms, after the 24-hour Mind Springs walk-in center closed here in Grand Junction.

“This is something that we didn’t have before, and we feel pretty promising about what we are able to offer. Because, these services, what our hope is, is it would’ve prevented someone from not getting care, or going to a hospital level of care,” said Chief Clinical Officer, Amanda Jones.

Officials say weekends are when the walk-in clinic is usually the busiest.

Watch TV footage on KJCT-8
The Center for Mental Health, Crested Butte

The Center for Mental Health Committed to Curbing Suicide on Western Slope

By | News, Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact
Jackie Brown-Griggs
303-300-2255

Montrose, Colorado — October 9, 2019 — As September’s Suicide Prevention Awareness month is behind us and we head into the holiday season, The Center for Mental Health (CMH) wants to continue to make the community aware of the local behavioral resources available. These are especially critical if someone is having suicidal thoughts, or knows of someone who is, and needs intervention or care along the Western Slope. CMH recently expanded mental and behavioral care offerings across the region, so finding a professional who will listen and help is easier than ever before.

“We recognize and know that suicide rates are increasing across our community. While there are several contributing factors, the one thing we can do is increase access to quality behavioral healthcare for those having suicidal thoughts and for family members who are concerned about loved ones,” said Shelly Spalding, CEO of The Center for Mental Health. “We need to communicate with our community about the warning signs and the ways we can help save lives.”

In 2019, CMH opened new locations in Telluride, Crested Butte, and in Montrose with the new Crisis Walk-In Center (CWC) that opened in September. It has expanded services in several of its Western Slope locations to meet the needs of the community. “The newly opened CWC is open all day, every day. Anyone, of any age can walk in if they feel in danger of hurting themselves or others,” said Amanda Jones, Chief Clinical Officer. “In our first few weeks we have already been able to support teens locally experiencing suicidal thoughts. We have given them a safe place, close to home, where they can be treated with their family during a difficult time,” said Jones.

Unfortunately, suicide affects everyone at some time. It maybe the loss of a close friend or family member, a member of the community, or even hearing about it on the news. At times, we may worry that someone we know and love might be in danger of hurting themselves. So, in addition to offering urgent care for those in crisis, CMH provides classes in Mental Health First Aid and suicide prevention strategies such as Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and Question Persuade and Refer (QPR) so people can recognize danger signs and have tools to help others.

“I wasn’t on anyone’s radar,” said Ian Hatchett of Crested Butte. “I was happy, engaged in my social circles, and employed in a career I loved as a mountain guide. Then, I experienced the perfect storm of personal issues that led me down a dangerous path. If it weren’t for the combination of my friends, my therapist, and The Center for Mental Health, I simply wouldn’t be here today. I will do anything in my power to share my experience in the hopes that I can make a difference in someone’s life.”

Hatchett isn’t alone, in fact, suicide rates nationally are on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicides are the leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 and the fourth leading cause of death among adults 35 to 54 years old. In fact, there were more than twice as many suicides (47,173) in the United States as there were homicides (19,510) in 2018. In addition, the Western Slope mirrors the national average of rural suicide rates consistently being higher than those in urban areas.

According to the Colorado Institute of Health, Colorado has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, and that rate is especially prevalent in the state’s southwestern corner and the Western Slope, followed by a handful of eastern plains counties. Experts agree that the combination of geographical isolation, access to guns, limited or lack of mental health care, and the stigma around seeking help each contribute to those increasing suicide rates.

“We know that as a rural area, we need to be on higher alert to those who feel lost and alone. We have an esteemed staff of professionals who know what to look for and who understand how to treat someone who is feeling hopeless,” said Kimberly Behounek, Regional Director for Gunnison and Crested Butte.

“I had reached my lowest point and had given up,” added Hatchett. “Luckily, my therapist at CMH had the right suitcase of skills and gave me permission to forgive myself for giving up. As a nation, we need to demystify the process of mental healthcare and break the prejudices around it.” When Hatchett needed help, he traveled to CMH in Gunnison to get care. “They didn’t have anything available near me in Crested Butte at the time, but now CMH has an office right here.”

“We recognized that easier access to quality behavioral health is one fundamental and unique challenge that we could address.” said Spalding. “We still have a way to go, but we have made a lot of progress in making mental healthcare more accessible in our community by providing more local providers and new, convenient locations.”

The Center for Mental Health offers the following short list of risk factors associated with the possibility for suicidal behavior on their blog at centermh.org/blog:

RISK FACTORS FOR SUICIDE (suicidepreventionlifeline.org)

  • History of mental health issues
  • Alcohol and other substance use and abuse
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Major physical illnesses
  • Previous suicide attempt(s) or family history of suicide
  • Loss of relationship(s), job, or financial loss
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation or hopelessness
  • Stigma associated with asking for help
  • Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Local clusters of suicide or exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

Knowing the warning signs may help determine if you, a friend, or loved one is at risk for suicide. If so, please call The Center for Mental Health Crisis Line at 970.252.6220 (locally) or Colorado Crisis Services at 1-800-493-TALK (8255) (statewide).

SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS (suicidepreventionlifeline.org)

  • Expressing the desire to die or to kill themselves
  • Researching ways to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling hopeless, trapped, in pain, or having no reason to live
  • Expressing concern about being a burden to others
  • Behaving recklessly
  • Increasing alcohol and substance use
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Extreme mood swings

The Center for Mental Health can help by phone, online, or in person.

Phone
If you are in crisis, please call our confidential crisis line at 970.252.6220 or text TALK to 38255 to connect with a national crisis counselor.

Online
Using CMH’s confidential, free, and quick self-screening tool, you can assess your mental health situation online.

In person
The Center for Mental Health has locations across the Western Slope — you can make an appointment or walk-in for help at centermh.org/locations.

Take a Mental Health First Class
View our calendar of events to find a training class near you.

Crisis Walk-In-Center
The Crisis Walk-in Center in Montrose provides urgent behavioral health to anyone in our region. If you think you or someone you know is in danger of hurting themselves, walk in 24-hours a day, 365 days a year for help. No insurance is needed.

The Center for Mental Health is a nonprofit organization seeking to promote mental health and well-being. It provides behavioral healthcare services through more than ten facilities across 10,000 square miles including Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel Counties.  Visit centermh.org to learn more.

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KVNF Public Radio

Local Motion: Mental Health Resources

By | Media Coverage, News

This edition of Local Motion focuses on mental health.

Many Western Slope residents struggle with depression, anxiety, substance abuse and even thoughts of suicide. The Surgeon General of the U.S. has said that one in four people experiences some form of mental illness, and the rates of those illnesses are highest in the American West. Fortunately, resources ranging from therapists to treatment centers are available in many communities. KVNF’s Jodi Peterson interviews various mental health experts about what assistance is out there.

Listen on KVNF
Crisis Walk-In Center in Montrose

KJCT8 News: Mental health crisis walk-in center open in Montrose

By | Media Coverage, News

September 17, 2019 — After Rocky Mountain Health Plans took over the contract for crisis services statewide, with that came the closure of the 24 hour walk-in center at Mind Springs.

Now, there’s a new one in Montrose.

The new Crisis Walk-In Center will offer things like a 24-hour detox facility, and staffed mental health professionals to help anyone going through a mental crisis.

The new place has 11 beds and is the only facility of its kind between Denver and Salt Lake.

Staff at the center say they hope to take some demand off of hospital emergency rooms.

“I think that the ER’s are overrun with so many substance abuse issues going on right now, that if we can take some of those people and get them into our detox and give them the services that they need, you could definitely see a decrease in hospital admissions because of that,” said Director of Nursing and Emergency Services, Heather Thompson.

Crisis services will be available 24 hours a day, and seven days a week.

Courtesy of KJCT8 News | Back to Press Room

Watch TV footage on KJCT-8