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Kim Floyde

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Resilience – Overcoming Suicidal Ideations

By CMH Blog

If you’re here reading this, it’s likely something in the title caught your attention. Maybe it is a word you connect with, or have some curiosity about, or maybe it is hope for connection. Whatever reason brought you here, welcome. I’m here to tell you a little story: my story about resilience and overcoming suicidal ideation.

My first suicide attempt was when I was 7 years old. Since then, I’ve attempted suicide a handful of times with my last attempt in 2015, just after my 22nd birthday. For 15 years, I have lived with the guilt of suicidal ideation.

It began very simply. I couldn’t understand why I felt the urge to no longer exist, but even at 7 years old, I knew these thoughts were unusual. I was raised, partly, in a Catholic household, and I was taught that dying by suicide was a one-way ticket to hell, even before I actually knew what suicide was. This belief system I was raised to uphold added to the stigma surrounding suicidal ideation. Now, I understand that suicidal ideation is a common feeling for those with anxiety, depression, or many other mental illnesses.

Over the years, I learned that there are different types of suicidal ideation. One is “active ideation” in which you’re not only thinking about suicide, but you have a plan and intentions to carry out the thought. The other is “passive ideation,” which means you wish you didn’t exist anymore, or that you could die so you don’t have live in the agony any longer; however, you don’t have plans to act on these thoughts. I spent a few periods of my life in the “active ideation” stage where I had a plan to take my life and was ready to set my plan into action. I also spent many, many more years after that in “passive ideation.”

For me, the real kicker was not overcoming the “active ideation;” I knew deep down that I didn’t want to die because I always held hope for a better future — one worth living. For me, the hard part has been overcoming the “passive ideation” of suicide, even to this day.

It sneaks up on you: when you’ve had a bad day and you’re feeling exhausted; when the universe seems to keep kicking you down; when nothing seems to be going right, no matter how hard you work. The passive ideation sneaks in and offers itself as an outlet; even when you don’t feel suicidal, it’s there. Sometimes it doesn’t even look like suicidal ideation. Sometimes it looks like smoking a pack of cigarettes in a day because maybe you’ll get sick from the chemicals. Sometimes it looks like sleeping all day because the thought of getting out of bed breaks your heart. Sometimes it’s just thinking to yourself “I wish I could die.” Suicidal passive ideation creeps into your mind, intrusive and unbearable. BUT! There are many ways to move past the suicidal ideations and create a life worth living! For me, it was growing my resilience muscle.

Resilience – re·sil·ience, noun – The capacity to recover quickly from difficult situations.

For the last five years, I’ve worked on growing my resilience muscle. Yes, I think of resiliency as a muscle, and like all other muscles, if you put in the work to grow it and make it stronger, you’ll likely be able to do things and overcome obstacles you never imagined possible.

How to grow your resilience muscle:

  1. Practice thought awareness.
    Resilient people work on managing the negative thoughts and focus on consistently practicing positive thinking.
  2. Learn from mistakes or perceived failures.
    Resilient people tend to see mistakes or failures as lessons learned or as opportunities to try something in a new way.
  3. Maintain perspective.
    Resilient people understand that while an event or crisis may be overwhelming in the moment, allowing time to reframe perspective can be beneficial.
  4. Develop strong relationships.
    Resilient people know that no one person can do it all, and we all need a strong support system.
  5. Ask for help when you need it!
    Resilient people know that asking for help is the single best step you can take when trying to overcome suicidal ideation. If you don’t know who to ask, call The Center Support Line at 970.252.6220. It’s free and available to you anytime you need to talk.

Recovery and resilience will always be my chosen path to my best life. I truly have a life worth living, but it wasn’t easy getting to this point. Growing up in poverty, I had a difficult time rallying support and finding resources to feel better. Apart from maybe three people, my mental illness and struggle was kept a secret because I was ashamed and embarrassed to have these feelings and thoughts. Of course, I showed many, many signs of mental anguish and suffering, yet I went about this journey all on my own without much support.

After my last attempt at 22 years old, I met with a primary care doctor and decided to try medications for my mental illness. I was able to find stability, and with my lived experience, I found a job as Peer Specialist at The Center for Mental Health. For the first time in my life, I was connected with a therapist and finally discussed my experience with suicidal ideation. It was monumental for me. It allowed me to really push forward in life and blast through the walls that I had built. I truly valued my time working as a Peer Specialist, and I learned something from every single one of my clients. Through my personal and professional experience, and with the inspiration of my clients, I wrote a poem that I would like to share with you today.

“What I Wish My Clients Knew – An Ode to Resilience”

First things first,
most everyone working in the mental health field is here
because we have a history,
just like you.

It’s ok to cry.
I do it too, often.
Crying can help release anger, frustration, sadness, grief, and loneliness.
You may feel relief after crying.
It’s ok to cry, and it’s ok to cry in front of me.
I will never judge you for it.
Men – even you are allowed to cry.
I will never think less of you for it,
and I will never judge you for feeling emotions.

It’s ok to back slide.
It’s ok to fall down.
BUT, you have to get back up, dust yourself off and try again!
The only true failure is giving up!

It’s ok to be vulnerable & it’s ok to hate vulnerability.
I understand how hard it is to offer yourself up to change.
The fact that you’re currently sitting in my office
is a good sign that you’re practicing change and vulnerability.
Give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far.
Men – it’s ok to be vulnerable around other men.

It’s ok to be scared or unsure.
Not just of life, but of the people who are helping you.
It’s ok to be unsure of your past, of your present, and of your future.
It’s ok to be scared; in fact, it’s completely normal.
Don’t let fear stop you from making a difference in your life.

It’s ok to celebrate the small successes in your life
(after all, that’s exactly what resilient people do!)
Pat yourself on the back for waking up.
Be proud of the fact that you made it to your therapy session.
Give yourself a round of applause for not letting an anxious cycle take over your day.

Celebrate the small achievements you’ve made.
That’s a sign that all your effort is paying off!
It’s ok to ask for help!
This goes for everyone, everywhere.
If you need help, give yourself permission to ask for it.
That doesn’t mean you’re weak or fragile,
it means you’re human
(welcome to the club, there’s about 7 billion of us.)

What I wish my clients knew:
I have been there.
Exactly where you are… Scared, lost, hopeless.
Unsure of what steps to take,
how to move forward,
how to release the anger and pain.
I found my way of doing it,
and I want to help you find yours.

Together we can create a path to freedom –
freedom from the hurt, the depression, the anxiety, the pain, the darkness.
A better life is waiting for you, and it’s possible.
I have been there, and now I’m here…
and I want you here with me.

Written by Leticia Garcia, Administrative Assistant at The Center for Mental Health

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or is experiencing suicidal ideation, please reach out to The Center for Mental Health. We are available 24/7/365 at our Crisis Walk-In Center at 300 N. Cascade Ave. in Montrose and by calling our crisis and support line at 970.252.6220.

The Center for Mental Health's walk-in clinic, with crisis stabilization services, began serving patients a year ago. (Justin Tubbs/Montrose Daily Press)

Advocates work to combat suicide

By Media Coverage, News

Advocates work to combat suicide as Center for Mental Health’s walk-in clinic hits first-year mark

Rana Shaner shares her story of survival in hopes of saving others — her way, she said, of giving back after she sought and received help for suicidal thoughts and attempts.

“I’m not ashamed of any of this.… We don’t really choose to have mental illness. We don’t ask for it. These are the challenges we’re faced with. There’s no reason to be ashamed of who you are as a person,” Shaner said Tuesday, midway through Suicide Prevention Month.

Shaner struggled with suicidal ideation from an early age and took the first step to recovery at age 13, when she was able to tell her mother of her dangerous thoughts and was placed into therapy. The journey toward stability continued through young adulthood, when an instructor at her college took her to the campus clinic for help with her panic attacks.

“I had no clue how to start off. I was thankful there were people who did know,” Shaner said.

Today, Shaner is an advocate against suicide who works to reduce the stigma associated with seeking help. She is a member of the Colorado Behavioral Health Task Force and was also appointed to the Mental Health Service Standards and Regulations Advisory Board.

Shaner further sits on the Zero Suicide Task Force through The Center for Mental Health.

The Rocky Mountain region has the highest suicide rates in the nation and in Colorado, the Western Slope’s suicide rate is higher than the overall rate in the state — an ongoing concern for advocates like Shaner and clinicians at The Center for Mental Health. Suicide is the leading cause of death among Coloradans 10-24, although most suicides overall occur in men 45-64.

“There are a lot of signs and symptoms for people to watch out for,” said Center for Mental Health Regional Director Laura Byard.

Falling into the “immediate risk” category are such behaviors as people talking about wanting to die or kill themselves; researching a method; obtaining a weapon, or expressing feelings of hopelessness/no reason to live.

“We would want them to contact the center or the national help line to get help immediately,” Byard said.

The “serious risk” category includes troubling behavior that is new, has increased, or is related to a painful event; expressions of feeling trapped, being in unbearable pain, or of being a burden; increased drug or alcohol use; reckless behavior; agitation; sleeping too much or too little; withdrawing; rage; isolation; revenge-seeking behavior or extreme mood swings.

Byard said people exhibiting these signs should get an immediate evaluation.

The national help line is 800-273-8255 and the clinic’s crisis line is 970-252-6220. Byard also encouraged people to come to the center’s crisis walk-in center at 300 N. Cascade Ave. for immediate help and/or an evaluation. The Center for Mental Health works with insurance, offers a sliding fee scale, and may be able to find other payment assistance options for patients.

The walk-in center was completed last March and opened to patients a year ago today. It provided crisis stabilization and other behavioral health services to almost 600 people in its first year, who before had little to no access to such care without having to travel to Denver or Salt Lake City.

Center stats showed 354 clients who would have otherwise wound up in the hospital emergency room, instead received crisis treatment at the walk-in unit. Many patients also avoided jail by receiving mental health services instead. More than 200 clients received withdrawal management (detox) treatment.

“These crises services will help someone connect and access support quickly during a time when the individual could be experiencing suicidal thoughts,” Center for Mental Health Chief Clinical Officer Amanda Jones said, in a provided statement.

“Rapid connection with services and support can decrease the potential of someone taking action on their thoughts and direct them to services for ongoing care.”

Byard said the crisis center has been an “incredible success” when it comes to serving the entire region. Although the crisis unit is small and cannot, by itself, fill the large gap in behavioral health services on the Western Slope, the feedback has shown Byard it is helpful.

“It’s been amazing for all of us to be able to serve our community this way,” she said.

Patients ages 12 and into their 90s have reached out for help with all kinds of difficulties, she said.

“We are able to connect them with our clinical staff and recommend treatment that is very specific to their individualized needs,” said Byard.

Not everyone in crisis is necessarily suicidal, and people with suicidal ideation might not necessarily be in crisis mode. “Suicidal ideation” refers to thoughts of suicide, whether brief and fleeting, or frequent and persistent.

“Anytime they (suicidal thoughts) creep in, even if it’s brief… we would recommend they get an evaluation. That’s their brain letting them know they need some support for whatever it is they’re dealing with,” Byard said.

Shaner battled suicidal thoughts throughout her life.

“My goal is to do things to promote hope, to educate and to normalize having the conversation to help take the stigma away and just be willing to initiate that discussion,” she said.

“It was challenging for me. I just want people to know there is hope. You can recover. You can create a life worth living. Recovery is possible. I think of it as, recovery is investing in your greatest asset, which is yourself.”

This is not a challenge that can be met overnight, but a long journey — and a worthwhile one, Shaner also said.

“I was so glad I did put in the time and effort,” she said.

“I decided I wanted to make meaning and purpose of my experiences. I could do that by telling my story.”

Before reaching out and fighting for her health, Shaner internalized the stigma that often comes with seeking help for behavioral health issues, believing she was somehow “defective” and unworthy. But that’s not true, she said, and therapy forced her to challenge those destructive thoughts, as well as helped her realize everyone’s existence matters.

“It doesn’t always have to be this big, grand gesture on a big scale,” Shaner said.

“Even if you offer a word of support for someone and it helps them, maybe they pass on the same words to someone else who needs it. We do all matter in this world.”

Stigma remains, Byard said.

“Unfortunately, I do think people are reticent to ask for help. It is not unusual … there’s reticence to seeking treatment. That’s the part we would definitely like to see improved,” she said. That reluctance is among the reasons why it is important to recognize the risks for suicide in oneself or in others, she added.

Suicide isn’t necessarily a symptom of mental illness, Shaner said: people with mental health conditions may not have any suicidal ideations and people without mental health conditions might indeed be suicidal.

Getting help in addressing what underlies suicidal thoughts is critical. Shaner found dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, particularly beneficial, and said she is grateful for the Center for Mental Health’s support.

The Center for Mental Health individualizes treatment specific to patient needs, through a thorough assessment and recommends treatment accordingly, including DBT, which focuses on emotions that are difficult to manage (not exclusively suicidal tendencies), Byard said.

When someone comes in to be evaluated for suicidal ideation, trained clinicians talk to them about their situation; psychological paint; stress; level of hopelessness; agitation and overall risk. The clinician works with the patient and his or her support system to create a safety plan and steps for treatment.

“We treat suicidality as a separate clinical issue, working with an individual toward their goals for their best life,” Byard said.

Shaner reiterated the need for people to reach out — ideally, before they are in crisis. Others may think someone who seeks help is a weak person, she said, but: “I beg to differ. I think it takes a person of great strength.”

Montrose Daily Press
Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.
Montrose Daily Press | September 16, 2020
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Coping with Suicidal Thoughts

By CMH Blog

Richelle E. Goodrich kind of sums it up nicely for me in her words from Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, and Grumblings for Every Day of the Year: “I have a funny side. I have a soft and sympathetic side. I have a serious side, and a seriously romantic side. I have lots of sides; it’s the main course I haven’t quite figured out.”

I’m not sure I really want to figure out the main course either. I like side dishes. They’re usually the fun ones, full of carbs or nice and sweet; they’re your casseroles, your chips and salsa or queso, basically everything leading up to the main dish. Don’t get me wrong – I can truly enjoy a “steamin’ greasy plate of enchiladas with lots of cheese and onions” as Robert Earl Keen sings about. But when that plate is clean, it symbolizes the end of something. And I don’t particularly care for endings of any kind.

That’s where the irony comes in for me because the paring of this disdain for endings and the life-long managing of my own suicidal thoughts has created both conflict at certain times, and sustenance at others.

As you might imagine, the conflict is how my mind always seems to find a way for me to have thoughts pondering my own demise. Terribly intrusive. Terribly inconvenient. What makes them worse is trying to fight them; this just ends up creating a deeper, more lasting interruption when I do fight. Instead, along the way, I’ve learned to just comment to myself something that merely acknowledges the thought without giving it any more power. I say to myself, “That’s interesting,” and if it persists, I may even say to myself, “Wow, you’re kind of being pushy with that one.” More often than not, this enables me to stay focused on whatever I’m doing in that moment.  Even so, this coping skill doesn’t mean the process doesn’t come with a cost. It takes a lot of energy to play this game. When I meet someone with a dark side similar to mine, like my friend Rana, it’s easy to understand just how burdensome suicidal thoughts can be not just personally, but for others. When I learn of a suicide, I’m both saddened, and I understand the relief they were seeking. I understand it because I too wish that these thoughts would end.

But these thoughts don’t end, and that’s where the sustenance comes in. Did I mention that I hate endings? It saddens me when I come to the end of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and must wish my friends Frodo, Sam, and Gandalf goodbye. Yet it’s unavoidable. Buddha wrote, “If you accept that death is part of life, then when it actually does come, you may face it more easily.” Part of my process of sustaining is deciding that I will take my loathing of endings and commit to accepting that while death is in fact part of my life, it won’t be a part that I set in motion. It won’t come about by my hand. It will, however, be something I think about, and I can accept that.

I once felt much more isolated in these thoughts and beliefs than I do now. I am thankful for people like Rana, for scientists researching suicide, for great therapists, for the lessening of stigma in general, and yes, even for medication. It’s comforting knowing, and a source of strength, that I’m not alone in this with an incredible support system around me that includes friends, family, and most especially my wife and son. If any of this resonates with you at all, know that you don’t have to be alone in this either.

The Center for Mental Health is here to help. If you are in crisis or just need to talk to someone, call our 24/7 crisis and support line at 970.252.6220. If you think you might benefit from services, please call 970.252.3200 to learn more or make an appointment.

Read Rana Shaner’s blog post on Creating a Life Worth Living.

Ed Hagins, M.Ed., LPC
Deputy Director of Operations & Special Projects
Loving mother supporting tired teenage daughter (photo)

Dealing with Back-To-School Stress in 2020

By CMH Blog

Dealing with the stress of back-to-school in 2020

The end of summer has always been a time of transition for families across our country. Parents and youth alike are registering for classes, buying new supplies, and wondering who their teacher will be. This summer and fall we have an added layer of concern that is plaguing us all: what is this school year going to look like?

As schools open across our nation, we have been seeing that things are going to look different in every town and city. In some instances, decisions to do home school or online school have been made for families by their districts. In other instances, there are decisions to still to be made: should we as parents send our kids to in-person school or not? And even after families have labored over these decisions and made what they hope to be “the right decision,” there is always a possibility that things can change without their input in these uncertain times, what are we to do?

As a parent and Licensed Professional Counselor, I have had a lot of time to reflect on a variety of things that affect me, my family, and my work. At first, the pandemic and its added uncertainties and responsibilities weighed heavy on me. As the summer has progressed, I have learned to see the pandemic as an opportunity to grow as a person, mother, friend, wife, and more. BUT it has not been easy.

In times of great stress, our mind plays tricks on us. Instead of operating in what we call the Wizard brain, the calm, cool, collected part of our brain, we tend to operate out of our Lizard brain, the more impulsive and reactive part. Not only is this happening in us, it is also manifesting in our children.

I have worked with youth in a variety of capacities throughout my 20 years in Colorado. I have been a director of a youth program and juvenile justice program, a substitute teacher, a volunteer coach, and more. What I absolutely love about working with youth is that they tend to be more “in the moment” than adults. The younger the child, the more present and in the moment, they seem to be, effortlessly. What an amazing natural talent! I have also come to realize that youth possess a resiliency that is admirable. I have watched many children bounce back from extremely difficult situations and, with an added solid support system, I have watched them achieve incredible feats.

As we charge forward into an uncertain new school year, I would like to offer some strategies to help you and your children with the stress and ambiguity.

  1. Increase self-awareness by taking note which brain you are operating from. If you find you are in your “Lizard Brain,” take a moment to breathe and calm yourself down before reacting. Also take note of which brain those around you seem to be operating from. If they are acting out of impulse and from a place of stress, your recognition of that can help calm the situation down. Practice creating more patience and grace for yourself and others.
  2. When speaking with your children about the present, past or future, REFLECT and REPEAT. Questions can hinder a conversation and make children second guess themselves. Instead practice reflecting or repeating back what they are saying. For example, if a child says, “I’m sad,” instead of asking why, repeat and reflect back to them with this statement “You ARE sad.” This will keep the conversation going and let your child know you understand and are listening. Most likely they will continue to explain what is going on with them, and no questions will be needed.
  3. Analyze your options in a potentially irritable or challenging situation. It is exhausting to fight reality. Radical acceptance is accepting life just as it is. Gracefully accept and acknowledge the feelings and emotions you have about certain situations.
  4. Focus on what our youth are learning from our current situation, not what they are missing out on.
  5. Anxiety and depression tend to increase when we focus on the past or fret about the future. Be here now, practice living in the present moment, and revel in it. In his book, The Power of Now: A Guide to Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle says, “I have lived with several Zen masters… all of them cats.”
  6. Seek support when necessary for you or your family. Investigate individual and group counseling options and various support groups.

Ultimately, my goal is to help youth become independent, compassionate, and graceful critical thinkers. With these skills, they can accept and overcome the challenges that come their way, both with support and on their own. I believe our youth possess an innate wisdom that sometimes we adults forget about. This school year, let’s take pleasure in the little things, our successes, and the innovative ways we can move forward!

The Center for Mental Health is here to help. Call us at 970.252.3200 to learn about our services or make an appointment. Visit our website at to learn about the services we offer for children, families, and adults.

* * * * * * * * * *Sources

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). Parent-Child Interaction Therapy With At-Risk Families.

Empowering Education: Mindfulness-Social & Emotional Learning. (2016). Lizard-Wizard Brain.

Hall, K. Ph.D. (2012/7). Radical Acceptance: Sometimes Problems Can’t Be Solved. Psychology Today.

Tolle, E. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. 2004.

Helene “H” Discoe, LPC, CAC I
The Center for Mental Health, Ridgway

Co-responder partnership between police and mental health professionals

By Media Coverage, News

Co-responder partnership between police and mental health professionals proves a boon to community; grant buys specially equipped vehicle

In August, her first month as the mental health co-responder assisting law enforcement, clinician Katharyn Burke performed seven evaluations.

That speaks to the necessity of the behavioral health co-responder program, Montrose Police Department Cmdr. Tim Cox said. Cox supervises the program for the police department, which first launched a behavioral health co-responder program in late spring, 2018.

The program is a partnership with the Center for Mental Health, which provides behavioral health professionals to respond with officers to police calls that involve a person experiencing a mental health crisis, and to help de-escalate the situation. The center uses state grants to pay the salary of the co-responder.

“The whole goal of the program is to reduce individuals in behavioral crisis who are going  to the emergency room or crisis walk-in center — ultimately, the No. 1 thing is to keep them out of jail and get them the help they need,” Cox said.

A trained clinician like Burke, who is a licensed professional counselor, can use his or her skills to defuse potentially volatile situations, transport the individual in crisis to immediate care and can also conduct followup with the person. In turn, a police presence helps ensure the clinician’s safety.

Prior to the program, police officers could transport a person in crisis to the ER — and, after it opened, the Center for Mental Health’s crisis walk-in center — but they would not necessarily know whether the person received services and care, plus transporting the person took officers away from law enforcement duties.

“This is an amazing program. To be able to support our community through the co- responder model is a great benefit to our community members,” said Laura Byard, regional director for for the Center for Mental Health and the clinic’s co-responder program supervisor.

The co-responder model gets people support immediately and, ideally, helps them avoid future law enforcement contacts, or at least, decreases the level of such encounters, she said.

“It’s a quicker response. People naturally call 911 when there is an emergency, whether it’s mental health or not. It (program) allows us to get to them really quickly and address their needs,” Byard said.

Enhancing the program is the recent purchase of a specially equipped vehicle for the co- responder, which was possible because of the City of Montrose’s successful 2019 grant application for a Peace Officer Mental Health award from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

The city received $42,745 to purchase the vehicle and radio equipment for it; a portion of the grant will also be used to train and certify five officers in peer support counseling.

The purchase of a designated vehicle for the mental health clinician will allow the clinician to respond autonomously, stay on scene to deliver patient services, and complete follow-up visits while freeing up officers for additional calls for service.

The vehicle enables Burke to arrive and depart from calls separately, which serves to free up officer time, as well as to give the patient a better transport experience, Byard said.

“Hopefully, it’s a better experience for our community,” Byard said.

Because Burke is able to transport individuals in crisis, responding officers can remain on scene, if the situation requires them to do so.

The co-responder program is a necessity, Cox said. “The partnership between the Center for Mental Health, the Montrose Police Department and Montrose County Sheriff’s Office has been beneficial so far. We knew it was needed in our community,” he said.

Although officers receive a degree of training in crisis intervention, their primary job is law enforcement. A skilled clinician on scene helps them recognize a person in mental health crisis, versus someone who is just out to break the law, Cox also said.

“The ultimate goal is to keep those individuals (in crisis) out of jail,” he reiterated, saying the clinician is ultimately the professional best equipped to assist them.

“Our officers are trained in de-escalation and they do a very good job, but having her there (is helpful),” Cox said.

In the past, officers might know someone was in a crisis, and could take that person to the ER or the crisis center, but that didn’t always end the matter.

“We would never know what happened with that individual. We would see them on the street again and wonder what happened,” Cox said.

Having a professional who can follow up after the fact benefits everyone, Cox said. He added that the police are not informed of the details concerning a person’s contact with mental health services, because that is private medical information; however, officers now at least know a person has received care.

“It really is just a huge partnership,” he said, referring to the Center for Mental Health and law enforcement agencies.

“The main goal is to get that individual through that crisis and hopefully, they don’t end up committing a crime because of it,” Cox said.

“I’m just incredibly impressed with our law enforcement and their dedication to ensuring the best experience for those experiencing a mental health crisis,” Byard said.

“I think we’re lucky in our community to have such a great partnership.”

Peer support training, also being funded in part through the DOLA grant, is a benefit, Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall said in written information.

Through the peer support model, officers are able to talk in confidential settings to other law enforcement members when they are having trouble dealing with job stressors.

Hall last year announced his intention of implementing peer support in order to prevent officer suicides and other crises. Nationwide, officer suicides in 2019 exceeded the number of line of duty deaths, although the MPD’s last reported officer suicide was in 2007. The

hope is that having a peer support program will help officers overcome the stigma of seeking help when they are affected by the hard things they see on the job.

“Our officers see and experience things no one should see in a lifetime,” Hall said in a press release Monday, announcing how the DOLA grant is being spent.

“Officers need access to trained law enforcement peer support specialists who understand the profession and can assist officers and their families when the job takes a toll on their mental health wellbeing.”

Montrose Daily Press
Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.
Montrose Daily Press | September 02, 2020
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I Created a Life Worth Living

By CMH Blog

My history

As a several time suicide attempt survivor with my first attempt at the age of four, along with being challenged with mental health symptoms beginning at an early age, I often lacked a desire to thrive. I want to share with anyone who may be contemplating suicide, THERE IS HOPE! Recovery is possible. One can create a life worth living. Recovery is complex, a lifelong process, a journey. It does not happen overnight. It is hard work, and it is so worth it. Recovery is investing in your greatest asset: yourself.

My beliefs about myself

I once bought into the stigmatizing societal attitudes and the messages I received from my abusers, hurtful messages that I was indoctrinated with or that they needed me to believe about myself. I could not understand what made me different. Why was I seen as inherently defective, as if this defect was a personal reflection on my character? I could not understand why I deserved to be dehumanized for something I had no choice or control over, for merely existing by way of the “ovarian lottery.” Why was I blamed for provoking the abuse? Why was the perpetrator often protected? It hurt to receive messages that I was nothing more than a disposable piece of trash that is easily replaceable. The truth is, no one deserves to be treated that way.

My experience of suicide was enduring what felt like unbearable emotional pain that I did not have the skills or internal resources to cope with. I felt overwhelmed, unable to process any more. No options for solutions seemed available; I was hopeless and helpless. Personally, I only made attempts during times I was being abused by a perpetrator or system. When you’re feeling rejected, abandoned, or seen as inherently bad, life does not seem to hold much value. When you’re overtaken by a binocular view, when you’re in that deep dark place of acute suicidality, you often feel like a burden to the world, that you do not matter, and it is difficult to recognize the pain you will cause for those left behind, or feel that you will be missed. Without hope it is difficult to continue on. There was a time the only hope I could find was the hope that someday I could have hope.

Many fear change. For me, nothing scared me more than my life remaining the same. I was tenacious with my recovery. I reached a place in my life where I had little faith in humanity from all of the cruelties I had suffered. I experienced empowerment the moment I was able to ask myself, “what are you going to do about it?” I created my life mantra, “Spread good and be ornery too.” I could take action to make this a better world to live in and remember to laugh too.

How therapy helped change these beliefs

My therapist worked with me to start challenging all of the beliefs that I became aware I had or that I had internalized as my own. In this process I happened across this quote in an article:

“The simple fact you exist has a ripple effect beyond imagine. You may never know those whose life you have touched or the repercussions, yet they are there all the same.”

This quote spoke to me and led to a dramatic shift in my thinking; I realized I did matter in this world, because I existed.

Something as simple as a smile, which we all have the capacity to do, can change a person’s day. It does not have to be a grand gesture. We may never know, but our smile could even save a person’s life. Maybe you’ve offered the words of comfort needed to ease a person’s suffering and by the ripple effect those words of wisdom are passed along to someone else who needs them. We all make a difference in this world and will never know all the lives we have touched. I came to another realization that “we are all equally human with strengths and challenges, I am no different than anyone else.” The shame disappeared. This began the process of allowing me to love myself. Many of those indoctrinated beliefs were lies, and they were no longer my truth.

The importance of kindness

Many therapists share a common story, where a client discloses contemplating suicide and then deciding to abandon their plan. This has been true for me too. A universal theme tends to emerge. It is a simple act of human kindness or compassion demonstrated by another individual that changed one’s mind. Maybe it was someone giving their time, connecting with the person in need, seeing the person first, letting them know they matter in the world, showing care and concern, offering support, giving them a voice, or any number of other small acts. It is seeing people, letting them know they have value, worth, and that they matter in this world.

Kevin Hines wrote a book to share his story about surviving his suicide attempt of jumping off of the Golden Gate bridge, which few survive. He spoke of the experience where he arrived by bus, walking along the pedestrian walkway in tears. He thought to himself, if a person were to come up to him to ask, “Are you okay? Is something wrong? Can I help you?” he could share his story, and that would keep him safe. No one did, and he jumped. Hines is now an international advocate for suicide prevention.

The recovery process

For me, therapy and medication management alone were not enough. I remained in the revolving door of the crisis cycle. Through The Center for Mental Health, I received a combination of services, in addition to therapy and medication management, and my recovery took off. I was referred to a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) group, which was huge. I was able to acquire tools to be able to cope with the distress, gain life skills, and dive deeper into my therapeutic work. Group therapy is a very successful intervention, which I love. Group work is valuable. I remained in DBT for several years because I wanted to obtain mastery of the skills. The goal of DBT is to create a life worth living.

I had a history of abuse and traumatic experiences that were left unresolved and unprocessed. I was referred to a TREMs group, trauma processing, where I was able to work through much of my past trauma. I was then recommended for Peer Specialist training, where I signed on with The Center for Mental Health as a peer volunteer. I began participating in some peer led groups. Doors began to open for me, where I was invited to participate in various efforts, representing the lived experience, e.g. Zero Suicide Task Force.

A life worth living

I embrace my lived experience. I have acquired an expertise that cannot be taught through formal education. Expertise can only be acquired through the lived experience. I make meaning and purpose through my experiences by sharing my story to advocate, educate, and be a voice for the behavioral health population and cause; I am an agent of change. I get involved in our community and on a state level too. I am making this a better world to live in by “spreading good.”

I no longer require services, beyond medication management. When I am challenged, I have the tools to rely on that assist me to work through those challenging times. Now, it is quite a rare occasion for a suicidal thought to arise, and on the rare occasion one does, it no longer holds the power it once held. In a blink of an eye the thought disappears. THERE IS HOPE! There are solutions. Recovery is possible. You can create a life worth living.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call The Center for Mental Health 24/7 Crisis Line at 970.252.6220 or text TALK to 38255 to talk to someone.

Better yet, reach out to 970.252.3200 to learn how to access behavioral health therapy and other services to get on the road to recovery today.

More information on The Center for Mental Health’s Crisis Services can be found on our crisis services page.

Rana D. Shaner, B.A., A.A.S.
2019 Behavioral Health Champion for The Center for Mental Health
Depressed mom looking at baby

Coping with Postpartum Mood Disorders

By CMH Blog

As many moms (and dads) know, the birth of a child is one of the most joyous events in the life of a family. There is so much excitement about this new arrival, we’re not always ready for all of the emotions that come with it. Surrounded by enthusiastic and well-meaning friends and family, new parents can experience an often-overlooked mental health concern, Postpartum Depression (PPD) or Postpartum Mood Disorders (PPMD).

These conditions are more widespread than you might think. Statistically, 1 in 7 women encounter major symptoms of depression and anxiety and 1 in 10 men become depressed in the first year after having a new baby. Parents of every age, income level, and culture can get Postpartum Mood Disorders, and symptoms can appear any time within the first year after childbirth.

Possible warning signs of PPMD may include increased tension or irritability, feelings of panic, difficulty enjoying oneself, feeling sad, feeling as if things are “out of control,” or difficulty bonding with your baby. If you or someone you know is having such difficulties, there is support and effective, well-researched options available. Postpartum Mood Disorders are not uncommon, and no one is to blame.

Parents can be isolated from family and friends; one parent can be working long hours, leaving the other at home with the newborn and without traditional support. Some parents are caring for two or more children under the age of four. Some parents feel obligated to keep the house as clean as it used to be, neglecting to take care of themselves. Other new parents spend much of their time in debilitating worry about their baby, concerned that something may happen to their baby, or they will make a grave error in caring for their newborn. It can be easy to feel as though things are spiraling out of control or that we are “not good enough.” These concerns, often a usual part of becoming a parent, can be magnified during a pandemic.

There are a number of things we can do to address PPMD, from taking care of ourselves to seeking the support of other new parents or reaching out for professional help. Taking care of ourselves allows us to provide the best care for our families. Make sure you get exercise, eat a healthy diet, and stay connected with family and friends.

Having a new baby is an exciting experience, but it can be overwhelming. If you need more support, consider talking to a counselor, learning more about PPMD, or getting support from others. Ask for help when you need it. Support groups for new parents are available online and in person. You can seek professional help from us at The Center for Mental Health by visiting or call 970-252-3200.


The Center for Mental Health (se habla español): A community behavioral health center serving individuals and families in Gunnison, Delta, Montrose, San Miguel, Ouray, and Hinsdale Counties.

Centro comunitario de salud al servicio de las personas y familias en los condados de Gunnison, Delta, Montrose, San Miguel, Ouray y Hinsdale.

Western Slope Postpartum Peer Support Group
Meets 2nd and 4th Saturdays, 9:30 to 10:30 AM
Bloomin Babies Birth Center, 2241 N 7th St, Grand Junction, CO 81501
970.549.1711  | Free childcare

Postpartum Support International
Learn more at or 1-800-944-4773

Contributed by Rebecca A. Lister, MS, LPC, integrated therapist at The Center for Mental Health

Young man with glass of whiskey at home (photo)

Drinking Habits During COVID-19

By CMH Blog

A slippery slope: using alcohol to cope with loneliness or isolation during COVID-19

In many ways, COVID has brought us closer: we’re laughing over interruptions from our pets and children while on Zoom, we’re sharing resources, and many of us are joining virtual happy hours to connect with our friends and loved ones. But what happens when the phone battery dies, the internet connection is unstable, or we feel like it’s just not the same as being with someone in person?

Suddenly, loneliness and isolation return, and we look for relief elsewhere. Maybe it feels like time to have another beer and stream a new show; suddenly, hours have passed and we’ve drunk a six-pack. Or we’ve opened a bottle of wine to have a glass with dinner, and we decide we might as well finish the bottle. Our current situation has led many of us to turn to alcohol as a way to cope, leading us into what’s called “gray area drinking.”

Gray Area Drinking
Gray area drinking isn’t the same as excessive drinking, which includes both heavy drinking and binge drinking. The CDC defines heavy drinking as 8 or more drinks a week for women, and 15 or more drinks for a man. Binge drinking is defined as having 4 or more drinks in a 2-3 hour period for women, and as having 5 or more drinks for men.

In her TedTalk on gray area drinking, Ms. Park, the founder of Healthy Discoveries, describes her own experience with gray area drinking: she’d quit drinking for a while and then wonder why she was being so restrictive. She’d start drinking again, thinking she could have a single glass of wine, and find herself finishing the whole bottle in an evening. She’d drink wine most evenings, which put her into the excessive drinking category defined by the CDC. She was engaged in gray area drinking—the space between occasional drinking and rock bottom drinking. Gray area drinkers function capably, don’t usually have major consequences to their drinking, like a DUI or losing a job, but their drinking is problematic.

Right now, we can feel disconnected, worried, isolated, and scared, and in our desire to cope with our feelings, we sometimes turn to alcohol. How can we determine if we might be in that gray area? Ms. Park outlines the following five signs:

  1. You silently worry about, and regret, your drinking.
  2. You drink between two extremes: you’re not at rock bottom, but you aren’t an occasional drinker either.
  3. You can stop drinking and you have stopped drinking for periods of time—even weeks or months—but it’s hard to stay stopped.
  4. Your drinking often doesn’t look problematic to those around you.
  5. You ricochet between telling yourself to stop drinking, and deciding that you’re overthinking and you just need to “live a little.”

How to Make a Change
Gray area drinking can be a slippery slope, and stressful times, like a pandemic, can make the slope even slipperier. What else can we do to fend off isolation instead of reaching for a drink? Ms. Park suggests the following:

  1. Ask yourself what you really want.
    Alcohol often feels like an escape from frustration, anxiety, and stress. Instead of drinking, we can ask ourselves what is driving our desire to drink and what we really need. What do we feel is lacking? More quiet time? More connection? Do we want more fun, purpose, or intimacy? We need to recognize that alcohol won’t give us any of those things. As we give ourselves more of what we’re really craving, the perceived need for alcohol will diminish.
  2. Add a few new things to your life
    Once you’ve made the decision to take a break from alcohol, look at what you can add in. Maybe it’s time to foster spiritual growth or new relationships. Start a new exercise routine, finally cook that meal you’ve always wanted to try, or take time to develop your emotional and spiritual well-being.

Using substances to cope is not unusual, and this pandemic is making it more common, but there are things you can do to cope. If you think you need more help, you are not alone, and there is a lot of help and support available to you.

Useful Resources
If you are feeling lonely or worried, we offer 24/7 phone support via The Center Support Line at 970.252.6220.

If you would like to learn more about treatment options, reach out to The Center for Mental Health at 970.252.3200.

Take a free, online assessment at

We also offer free access to an online mental health support tool called myStrength at

Jolene Park, TedTalk: Gray Area Drinking:
CDC definitions of excessive drinking:
Lone Cone Mountain

CMH Expands Services and Moves to New Naturita Location

By News, Press Release


Kateylyn Metcalf

The Center for Mental Health Expands Services and Moves to New Naturita Location

Naturita, Colorado – May 18, 2020 – The Center for Mental Health in Naturita has a new location as of May 1st, 2020. Previously located at Basin Clinic, The Center for Mental Health (CMH) has moved to a new building to better serve the behavioral healthcare needs of the local community.

CMH is appreciative of the Basin Clinic and the opportunity of working together over the past several years and plans to continue the important community partnership in future endeavors. To continue growth and expansion of the mental health resources CMH offers in the community, the location has moved inside the Vista Realty offices at 212 E. Main St. in Naturita.

At this new location CMH will be providing behavioral health counseling, substance use treatment services, and psychiatric appointments. Clients of CMH will also have phone and video teletherapy access to all services which include:

  • CMH Naturita LocationIndividual Therapy for All Ages
  • Group Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Psychiatry and Medication Management
  • Substance Use Counseling
  • DUI Services
  • Psychological Evaluations
  • Peer Services

Clients will have private, secure access to the on-site, in-office teletherapy system to easily access any CMH programs and providers across the six-county region The Center for Mental Health serves. This location will be open by appointment only – call 970.252.3200 to make an appointment.

Laura Byard, regional director at The Center for Mental Health says “We are committed to serving this community and expanding access to our programs with this new location. We are actively looking for a locally-based clinician to serve this important area.”

In addition, residents of Naturita have access to the services offered by the Crisis Walk-In Center centrally located in Montrose, open 24 hours a day, 7 days week.

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

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Thoughtful man looking out window

Coping with Substance Misuse

By Services

What is Substance Misuse?

Throughout history people have used substances to alter their ways of thinking and feeling. This has provided a relief or an escape from the sometimes monotonous experience of daily living. Mood altering substances have also been used recreationally to enhance enjoyment of certain activities or events. Societies have varied on their definitions of which substances are permissible from a legal standpoint and on the ages at which people are determined to be able to exercise sound judgement regarding the use of these substances. For our purposes, we are talking about alcohol and certain drugs as the focused substances in these considerations.

A pandemic can create certain challenges regarding the use or the misuse of drugs and alcohol. While drug or alcohol use may not be problematic in normal conditions, the stress and disruption caused by a pandemic can produce patterns of use that may involve using more of the substance than is commonly used, or using the substance more frequently or for a longer period of time than is typical.

When patterns of drug or alcohol use become extensive, they tend to bring accompanying features of dysfunction and often result in different problems. Some of these negative outcomes can be physical, such as withdrawal when the period of use is stopped, or they can be social, such as how other people are treated when someone is under the influence. In addition, the effects can be behavioral such as being unable to discontinue use or engaging in activities that are dangerous to perform under the influence of the substance, such as driving.

How can I recognize when there is a problem?

The first realization of a problem that someone misusing substances, or people close to the substance misusing individual, may have occurs when problematic patterns of misuse continue even when the person expresses regret for their use and intent to make a change. Knowing you don’t like how you are using drugs and alcohol or how you act when you are under the influence, but being unable to make a change, are signs you likely have a problem with substance misuse.

Recognizing the problem and acknowledging that it is a problem is the first step. This is sometimes difficult as it is not always something someone wants to admit is true about themselves. Supportive and direct conversations may be needed to bring this recognition about. Sometimes these conversations have to be repeated before they make a difference and the person fully acknowledges that their drug or alcohol use really is a problem.

What do I do when I recognize the problem?

There are many different options when it comes to addressing substance misuse. These range from self-help strategies, to group meetings, to professional help.

Self-Help Strategies
Once someone recognizes they are misusing drugs or alcohol, they may want to make an initial attempt to change their pattern of use on their own. The inability to follow through with this intent is a sign the problem is more serious than the person may realize. It is at this point the substance misusing person will need to get help from other people and resources.

Group Strategies
Admitting their problem to someone identified as a helping individual is necessary for the help from others to be effective. Recovery support meetings and 12 Step groups consist of other people who have struggled with substance misuse themselves and who have discovered solutions. Many of those people involved in these groups see helping other people misusing substances as an important step in their own progress. Often, they call this progress their recovery.

12 Step or recovery support meetings are in just about every community. During a pandemic, they are more easily and safely accessed online. An online search for these meetings reveals that there are meetings happening somewhere in the world that can be accessed via computer just about every hour of the day or night.

Professional Strategies
Professional help becomes necessary when the negative effects of someone’s misuse of substances are extremely harmful or when non-professional support groups have not proven sufficient. Professional help may need to vary in terms of the kinds of services that are provided and the intensity of these services. For example, some people whose misuse of substances has created patterns of physical dependency and withdrawal need medical treatment as well as psychological treatment if they are going to safely make a change to their patterns of use. Medical professionals should be consulted as someone takes the beginning steps to discontinue substance misuse.

The intensity of professional treatment services for substance misuse can vary from weekly meetings with a counselor to inpatient hospitalization, with many levels of treatment intensity in between. Treatment intensity is determined based on need, and a thorough assessment by a treatment professional is necessary to determine the level of care needed.

Substance misuse treatment is provided to individuals and often also to groups of people. Interactions with other people also working to overcome substance misuse can be a very helpful and rewarding part of treatment.

The Center for Mental Health is a resource for community members to get help when they need it. Please contact The Center for Mental Health at 970-252-3200 if you would like to work with a professional counselor regarding substance use or misuse issues.

May 2020