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Kateylyn Metcalf

Wrapping up Mental Health Awareness Month

By News

Wrapping Up Mental Health Awareness Month

This May we have been celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month in some new ways – most of them virtual. As we close out this month, I wanted to share why it is so important to us at The Center for Mental Health.

Mental Health Awareness Month began in 1949. It was started by Mental Health America to raise awareness, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support mental health. Every year in May we take time to promote mental health issues and try to break down the stigma that is often associated with seeking help.

In an effort to break down the stigma, the industry has turned to the term “behavioral health.” This term seeks to include both mental health issues and substance use disorders. One in 12 American adults has experienced a substance use disorder and 1 in 5 has experienced a mental illness during the past year. That equates to 467,000 Colorado adults who experienced a substance use disorder and over one million who experienced a mental illness. Approximately one quarter of these individuals received treatment at one of Colorado’s 17 Community Mental Health Centers.

On October 31, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act into law. This led to the establishment of Community Mental Health Centers throughout the country so that anyone who needed care could receive it. This helped people with mental illnesses who were “warehoused” in hospitals and institutions move back into their communities. A growing body of evidence at that time demonstrated that mental illnesses could be treated more effectively and in a more cost-effective manner in community settings than in traditional psychiatric hospitals.

The Center for Mental Health is one such Community Mental Health Center and currently serves clients in Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties.

Our goal is to provide behavioral healthcare to anyone in our communities who may need it. We know that good mental health is essential to overall health and personal well-being. Emotional problems can impair a person’s thinking, feelings, and behavior and, over time, can become increasingly serious and disabling.

As a local Community Mental Health Center, we try to make sure everyone has access to affordable, high-quality care. Offering 24/7 crisis and support services, individual and group therapy, and maintaining offices in rural areas are just some of the ways we support our residents.

During this time of COVID-19, we have watched our communities pull together in countless ways to support one another. It is critical that our neighbors feel connected and supported during this time. As we close out this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month, we encourage you to continue caring for each other. If you see someone who needs extra support, please reach out and use The Center for Mental Health as your community resource.

Shelly J. Spalding, CEO
The Center for Mental Health

Socially Connected While Physically Distanced During COVID-19

By CMH Blog

Part of the code of the west is the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors. It’s often understood within the code that we should look out for our own, be courageous, and help others in need, and residents across the 6 counties we serve have been doing just that by practicing proper precautions to stem the spread of COVID-19. We’re washing our hands regularly, wearing masks, and practicing physical distancing when out and about.  

With these precautions in place and even as they loosen in some places, it can be tough to maintain our social connections with others, which can leave us feeling vulnerable, alone, and depressed. Social connections are as important as health precautions, leaving us with the question of how to practice physical distancing while also maintaining vital social connections. Luckily, we have many options for staying connected during this time. Here are some we’ve picked up along the way.  

In your home:

  • Reconnect with your family. Do things you haven’t had the time to do before. 
  • Teach kids life skills like baking, laundry, ordering food, cleaning the bathroom, or mowing the lawn. 
  • Play games together—there are so many options, from board games, to puzzles, to video games, and lawn games. 
  • Plant a garden. Maybe start vegetables that you can use in cooking dinner together.  

In your neighborhood:

  • Driveways, yards, cul-de-sacs, and sidewalks make great places to picnic with neighbors while still staying six feet apart. 
  • Kids can stay connected too by creating sidewalk chalk art, blowing bubbles, having water fights, and painting colorful rocks to place around the neighborhood.  
  • Have neighbors create chalk art on their driveways and host a “gallery walk” where people stroll by to check out the artistic creations. 
  • Kids can use washable markers to draw or play games with friends on either side of windows or storm doors. 
  • Host a neighborhood scavenger hunt, looking for items that are visible from the sidewalk. 


Attend a class or event virtually. Gyms, museums, zoos, and other places are offering services, classes, attractions, tours and more virtually. And many of these events are free.  

Stay connected with friends and family. 

  • Have virtual check-ins or virtual happy hours. Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts are all good options for talking with friends and family and seeing their faces. 
  • Start the day with friends and coffee or host an end-of-the-day get together. 
  • Join a virtual watch party of a movie or show. 
  • Host a digital dinner party and include a virtual cooking lesson of the main dish. 
  • Read grandkids a bedtime story over video chat. 
  • Play your favorite board game with friends online. Try Tabletop Simulator—a program that allows people to play virtually any game. Popular games available include backgammon, chess, and mahjong, along with Settlers of Catan. Or try Twitch, a streaming platform that allows people a place to get together online and chat while playing games or watching others do so. Discorda free voice and text chat app, is primarily focused on audio, so you can talk with your friends while playing your game together. 
  • Take up the lost art of letter-writing—there’s something truly special about receiving a personal, handwritten letter in the mail, instead of the regular mailers and advertisements.  

Physical distancing shouldn’t mean total isolation. Following health guidelines for maintaining safe distancing becomes much easier with all of the options we have for staying connected. And being a good neighbor, friend, and family member means helping others in need. Despite all of our ways of connecting, this can be a difficult time. If you, or someone you know, seems to be struggling with mental health, please reach out to them and offer help.  

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.  

We offer access to a free online screening tool here. 

We also offer free access to an online mental health support tool called myStrength. Learn more here. 


May is Mental Health Awareness Month

By Media Coverage, News

The Center for Mental Health offers a number of services to help community members find ways to cope with COVID-19 stressors.

Mental Health Awareness month has been recognized in the United States every May since 1949. The main focus during the month is to raise awareness about mental health issues and help stop the stigma associated with it.

“We have to take care of our mental health as much as we would take care of our physical health. We do live in a very stressful world ordinarily and covid is just adding to that currently, getting the help that people need and reaching out to get the support is an important part of overall wellness and decreasing the stigma,” said Sara Palmer, Center for Mental Health.

The Center for Mental Health in Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties offers a number of services to help community members, families and individuals find meaningful ways to cope in today’s world. The center offers “same day” access and is open to new clients.

With the added stress of COVID-19 the center has put together a number of helpful client services according to Kristen Mau, director of marketing and communications.

“Our goal is to be a resource for people so that they can get the behavioral health care that they need. Obviously covid has shifted the way we’re doing that because we can’t meet in person the way we traditionally have been,” Mau said.

During the stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders the center has moved to providing services remotely either by telephone or by video teletherapy. While the facilities are open, many clients are accessing the new technology.

Twenty-five percent of clients opted for video teletherapy sessions from April 1 to April 18. In February the number was at 3%, and the numbers are expected to increase as the clients become more accustomed to video therapy sessions.

“It has been embraced quite well. Our teletherapy sessions are locked to ensure security. We are open in person at our Delta, Montrose, Ridgway locations; however, we have seen a reduction in people coming in due to COVID-19 so having the teletherapy and telephone option has allowed people who may have had barriers in the past access our services,” Palmer said.

Clients and non-clients can also access The Center Support Line open 24/7. Mau said the service is a way for people who are feeling stressed, anxious, or just need to speak with a trained staff person. The local support line began in response to the coronavirus pandemic as an extension of the original crisis line.

“We did a lot of training with our staff to be able to offer expanded information and kind of triage people calling in so they have a place to call somebody who is trained in helping with coping skills… and we’ve had a lot of positive feedback so, it’s a great resource for us to offer,” she said.

The week of April 19 to April 25, calls from the Center Support Line were up 27%. Mau said their support line will also help families who are food insecure or have other needs find resources. Anyone in the community can call 970-252-6220 and speak with a trained mental health staff member.

Another vital resource to help people cope during times of isolation is the center’s Facebook live “Coping with COVID” chats every Tuesday at noon. The chats began about a month ago, according to Mau who said one benefit to the platform is the rebroadcast.

“We’re getting a lot of viewership especially after, because the time may or may not be convenient for people. So, someone may have time in the evening to go back and watch it. We’ve been pretty pleased with the response,” Mau said.

The weekly chat features two clinicians who have a passion for communicating via Facebook and differs from the traditional formal webinar. Audience participation is encouraged by sending in email questions prior to the show or during the chat.

Another tool offered by the center during the COVID-19 crisis is the online wellness resource. The free tool can be accessed by anyone by using the code CMHSupport.

“It has all sorts of coping strategies, a coaching tool and a variety of mental health topics such as coping with anxiety, depression and covid. It’s a really great application that people can access from their home 24 hours a day,” Palmer said.

One change mental health professionals would like to change is the “social distancing” message to “physical distancing.”

“People are so separated from friends and family and support systems, so it’s important to maintain social connectedness. It’s really important to stay socially connected via Zoom, by phone or by whatever means is safe. Maintaining those relationships is more important now than ever so, please follow the physical distancing guidelines but find ways to stay socially connected to your support system,” Mau said.

Mental Health Awareness month will continue to be an important focus for the center during the rest of May.

“That’s the power of it being a nationwide month. Because you can’t just break down the stigma in one place. It’s a societal stigma, so for us we try to do a lot of outreach during the month. We can talk about mental health, we can be open about mental health, there’s nothing wrong with getting help. We’re all in this together and whatever you need to be a whole person is really important and we should be able to talk about it,” said Mau.

Moving ahead, the center is looking to provide mental health services designed especially for healthcare and frontline workers dealing directly with the fallout from COVID-19.

By Lisa Young

Staff writer

Delta County Independent | May 20, 2020
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